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Global Stewards - Green Eco Tips for a Healthy Planet

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Go Green Hotels: Green Ideas for Hotels and Resorts

This page lists sustainable ideas for green hotels and resorts. Eco hotels can keep up to date on green lodging news at Green Lodging News, Eco Green Hotel and Green Biz (tourism & hospitality). If you would like to encourage hotels you stay at to implement these ideas, consider inviting them to visit this page. ( through their hotel comment card. Find green hotels through TripAdvisor (when searching, select 'Green' from the 'Style' menu option) and the Green Hotels Association.



  1. Create a 'green team' at your hotel with the goal of continual improvement and scheduled re-evaluation and reporting. Apply for a green hotel certification (see also green building programs by country). Connect with other hotels and organizations to share best practices. See resources for ideas.
  2. Green Roof HotelCreate an incentive program to encourage your staff to participate in and improve upon environmentally-friendly practices.
  3. Regardless of your hotel size, consider writing an Environmental, Social and Governance Report to help focus in on areas for improvement and as a format for communicating your green practices to your customers.
  4. Educate your staff to:
  • Turn off lights and turn down heating/air conditioning in unoccupied rooms or employee-only areas
  • Close/open drapes to reduce the need for heating/air conditioning
  • Continually check for and respond to leaking faucets and toilets
  • Continually check for and power down unused hotel equipment (i.e., kitchen exhaust fans) that have been left running
  • Report opportunities to reduce resource consumption


Water and Energy

  1. Install a renewable energy system onsite (no cost options are available) or switch to a certified renewable electricity provider.
  2. Consider buying carbon offsets - TerraPass and Green-E have joined together to offer some good options. The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative can help with determining the carbon footprint for meetings, events and hotel stays.
  3. Take these best practices no- or low-cost energy-efficiency measures by the EPA.
  4. Conduct or schedule a water audit.
  5. If constructing new buildings, consider getting them LEED Certified
  6. Start a linen (both towels and sheets) reuse program in all guest rooms. One example: Project Planet Program.
  7. To reduce water use, consider rainwater harvesting and/or a greywater system.
  8. Switch to drought resistant native plants in garden areas and switch to WaterSense Landscape Irrigation Controllers. Replace mowed landscaping with native ground cover (also Native Gardening and Invasive Plant Guide)
  9. Install low-flow showerheads (.5 to 2 gpm) and sink aerators (.25 gpm to .5 gpm for hand and face washing and 2.2 gpm for dish washing).
  10. leaking toilet flappersSwitch to low flow or dual flush toilets/urinals or install toilet-tank fill diverters. Also, stay on top of leakage from the toilet flappers (the #1 source of leaks - a leaking or poorly fitting flapper can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day and may cost hundreds of dollars a year). Flappers typically start leaking within 1-2 years so schedule regular checks for leaks. Add a sign to your public bathrooms letting people know how to report leaks.
  11. To reduce operational costs, water and energy consider installing an ozone laundry system.
  12. Switch to Mercury-Free Fluorescent/CFLs (called ESL (electron stimulated luminescence) lamps) or, where appropriate, LED light bulbs in guest rooms, lobbies, and hallways. With fluorescent tube lamps, replacing outdated models with newer models reduces energy use and improves light quality.
  13. Use occupancy sensors and/or timers for areas of your hotel that are less frequently used such as hallways, outdoor areas, or public bathrooms. In some cases (i.e., staff storage areas) more energy is saved by training staff to turn off lights when a room is unoccupied.
  14. If available, schedule an energy audit through your local energy provider or a local energy auditor (aka energy consultant).
  15. Consult outside sources to evaluate the total system when replacing major mechanical equipment (such as chiller, water tower, etc). Often, this can lead to downsizing and other opportunities to reduce both the initial investment and operating costs.
  16. Use an energy management system (EMS) to tie in air handling units, HVAC, and lighting to prevent conditioning space when it is not necessary.
  17. Replace or modify HVAC heating and air conditioning units (see also guide for engineers) to increase energy efficiency. Consider using heat pumps or other geothermal technologies.
  18. Replace exit signs with Energy Star exit signs (i.e., Light Emitting Diode (LED)).
  19. Conduct an audit of equipment that uses "standby power" (the energy used while an appliance is switched off or not performing - a usage monitor can show standby watts) - plug equipment into bye bye standby or smart meters so that they are powered down completely when turned off.
  20. Use daylight exclusively in your lobby, bar, and restaurant for as much of the day as possible. Consider installing Energy Star skylights if needed.
  21. Purchase Energy Star appliances wherever possible (Energy Star for Hospitality provides detailed information about energy saving appliances and monitoring systems). Replace old washing machines with both water and energy conserving models.
  22. If vending machines are used, learn about opportunities to reduce energy use.
  23. Install window film to lower heating and cooling loads and reduce glare in guest rooms.
  24. If the hotel has a pool and/or hot tub, install a solar water heating system and use pool and hot tub covers when the pool area is closed.
  25. For roofs, use recommended levels of insulation or radiant barriers. Learn about other options at see Cool Roof Rating Council). Consider switching to a green roof.
  26. Consider installing an electric car charging station for your hotel, restaurant and/or bar guests and get it listed on plug sharing maps such as It's a great help for electric/plug-in hybrid car owners and helps to draw in business.



  1. Green Hotel Guest Room Recycling BinProvide guest room recycler baskets for newspaper, white paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard, and plastic.
  2. Provide recycling bins both in public areas (i.e., poolside), in the kitchen, and in the back office (including one at each desk) to make recycling as easy as possible.


Building Maintenance

  1. Consider getting LEED certified for your building operations and maintenance
  2. Include filter changes, refrigerator coil cleaning, thermostat calibration, water leak checks, and damper adjustments in your ongoing maintenance plan.
  3. Monitor, record and post rates of energy and water use. Make repairs or replace equipment when usage changes indicate problems.


Food Services

  1. Green Hotel Organic RestaurantIf your hotel has a restaurant, consider transitioning it into a Certified Green Restaurant or other certification program. Buy organic, locally-grown food and/or plant an organic garden to provide fresh produce for your guests. Quick water and/or energy savers:
  2. Try to avoid buying overharvested or endangered species fish using guides such as Seafood Watch.
  3. Donate leftover food to a local nonprofit organization and/or compost.
  4. Provide reusable items such as cloth napkins, glass cups, ceramic dishes, etc. with all food and beverage services.
  5. Get listed in green restaurant guides such as eat well guide, Seafood Watch app, HappyCow, VegGuide



  1. Green Hotel Food GardenConsider planting a wildlife habitat on your property. Basic elements include fresh water (i.e., a bird bath and, if in a yard, water low to the ground); plants and feeders that provide nourishment for birds, insects, etc.; and rocks, trees, bushes and/or bird houses for shelter and nesting.
  2. Purchase plants that are native to your area (aka Naturescape and Xeriscape).
  3. Learn how to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and birds
  4. Consider creating an organic food garden for the kitchen. Short on space? Consider a Keyhole Garden or growing vegetables in containers.
  5. If there's problems with storm runoff, consider adding a rain garden.
  6. Consider adding a composting or worm composting bin to create important nutrients for your garden and an eco-friendly way to dispose of food waste.

Gift Shop

  1. Green Hotel Fair Trade GiftsIf your hotel has a gift shop, consider selling sustainable, fair trade products. (see also: WFTO Wholesale Marketplace and B2B Fair Trade Direct)



  1. Create a green purchasing policy for cleaners, sanitizers, paints, pesticides, office supplies, etc. throughout the hotel. The U.S. EPA provides a Safer Choice guide for businesses and a guide for purchasing energy-saving products.
  2. Buy environmentally-friendly paper (copier, toilet paper, etc.):
    • With high post-consumer recycled content
    • Made without the use of toxic chemicals such as chlorine or mercury
    • Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or guaranteed to contain no fiber from endangered forests
    • Lightweight
    Use the Paper Calculator to compare the benefits of different recycled office paper products. Additional Resource: What's in Your Paper?, information on paper certification and Model Forest Resources Policy Template
  3. Minimize the amount of paper used for each guest and in the office (i.e., reduce paper size of invoices, etc.). Print with soy-based inks.
  4. Buy office and guest amenity products that contain recycled material.
  5. Buy organic, fair trade, cruelty-free guest amenity products whenever possible:


Guests and Guest Rooms

  1. Beehive Green HotelProvide your guests with bicycles, walking maps, and information on public transportation.
  2. Offer discounted rates to sustainable living/environmental organizations who would like stay at and/or hold meetings at your hotel.
  3. Donate leftover guest amenities, old furniture and appliances to charities.
  4. Donate used soap and shampoo to people in need through local shelters or organizations such as Clean the World.
  5. Provide glass cups and ceramic mugs (instead of plastic) for in-room beverages. Place cups and mugs upside down on paper doilies (instead of covering opening with a plastic wrapping).
  6. Whenever possible, buy food and guest amenities in bulk (i.e., use refillable hair and skin care dispensers).
  7. The greatest danger to birds is window collisions (up to 1 billion collisions annually in the U.S. alone). Audubon provides tips for minimizing collisions.
  8. Consider offering your guests the ability to purchase carbon offsets for their trip (that are passed on to a certified offset company such as TerraPass).