Illinois hotels offered green certification status

March 3, 2010

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

According to the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA), the number of environmentally-conscious hotels in Illinois is growing, allowing visitors to benefit from its StayGreen program.

Launched by the IHLA last year, the StayGreen initiative recognizes hotels that consciously and proactively use eco-friendly products and services. With more than 16,175 StayGreen rooms available across the state, IHLA aims to offer more choices as the program continues to take shape.

StayGreen focuses on three areas in which participating hotels must meet specific criteria: energy conservation, use of eco-friendly products, and services and recycling. To be certified, hotels must prove to the IHLA it is utilizing energy-saving appliances and services and participating in recycling programs.

“There are certification programs that cost thousands of dollars and involve all sorts of inspections,” IHLA President and CEO Marc Gordon said. “We encourage hotels to participate in LEED and Green Seal. But usually, that involves some significant expenses. What we’ve done is create a recognition program. It helps make the lodging industry in Illinois a leader in protecting our environment.”

Gordon said his organization envisions an Illinois industry where hotels consider green practices standard, just as the construction industry is quickly moving toward green standard benchmarks.

To receive StayGreen certification, hotels must concentrate on utilizing renewable energy credits from green energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar vendors. The effort must offset at least 50 percent of a hotel’s power to meet IHLA standards. Lodging facilities must also use energy-efficient lighting, while occupancy sensors must turn off lights and heating and air units when rooms are unoccupied. Green roofs, ENERGY STAR commercial equipment, water conservation units and reusable linens and towels must also be used.

Complying hotels must properly dispense recyclables such as newspapers, kitchen oil, plastic and metal on a regular basis to be considered for StayGreen certification.

“There is no program fee,” Gordon added. “We give it free to our members and say, ‘If you meet the criteria, we will send you a certificate, publicize you on our Web site, and give you the tools to publicize to your guests and meeting planners [indicating] that your hotel has successfully completed the StayGreen program.’”

More information about the StayGreen program is available at the IHLA Web site: www.stayinillinois.com.

From the Mar. 3-9, 2010 issue

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