Summit County hospitality industry looks to go green
Ryan Summerlin November 24, 2012
With hospitality as one of the largest sectors of the local economy, resorts and hotels serve as a portal of how visitors from all over the world view our community. With this in mind, local lodging resorts are setting new goals toward sustainability and environmentalism.These changes are aided by local sustainability programs funded by towns in the county and High Country Conservation Center, including SustainableBreck Business, Frisco Clean Tracks and Silverthorne Energy Smart.”Hotels have traditionally been slow to catch on to sustainability practices, especially in high-end lodging, because there is this sense that people want to suspend a sense of responsibility while they are on vacation,” said Lynne Greene, energy programs manager at HC3. “But what we are finding now is that people expect to be offered services that they are used to at home, like recycling.”Greene says such efforts by the industry show signs of an emerging market in the hospitality sector.”Guests expect to be able to enjoy vacation without the guilt of a huge ecological footprint,” Greene said. “This changes the way managers look at sustainability.”The SustainableBreck Business program is working with five lodging companies in Breckenridge, while the Holiday Inn in Frisco and Quality Inn in Silverthorne are also part of sustainability programs sponsored by the towns of Frisco and Silverthorne. “The Holiday Inn Summit County’s extensive remodel had going green on the top of the list last year,” said KD Kaiser, director of marketing at the Holiday Inn. “We pride ourselves on having energy saving lights, a cost-effective brand new sprinkler system and low-flush toilets among many other energy efficient renovations. Resorts and hotels through the county are using new innovations and recycling methods to promote sustainability among their operations, staff and guests.
Breckenridge Grand Vacations and Beaver Run Resorts have found a simple solution in accommodating recycling without expensive outreach or education programs. The two resorts offer green recycling bags in each unit, with an explanation of use for lodgers, Greene said. Breck lodging companies Ski Village Resorts and Book Breck Lodging are moving to more widespread and easier recycling in units as part of the SustainableBreck Business program. Ski Village has pledged to add recycling in each unit by the end of the year and Book Breck will have recycling pick-up available at each lodging accommodation. Frisco’s Holiday Inn is adding recycling in common areas as part of the Clean Tracks program. Quality Inn in Silverthorne is adding recycling to each floor of the hotel as part of the Silverthorne Energy Smart program. “We are very excited to add recycling to the common areas as well as develop an in-room recycling program,” Kaiser said.Collectively these improvements will reach thousands of hotel rooms, lodging accommodations and visitors, according to Greene.
Lodging accommodations throughout the county boast refillable or larger size bottles for guests to cut down on single-use items. Abbett Placer Lodge, a Breckenridge Bed & Breakfast, has refillable luxury soaps and Book Breck lodging purchases only larger-sized bottles for the units they manage. Hotels can go through 25,000-30,000 bottles a year when small disposable bottles are supplied for guests, according to Greene.
The Quality Inn in Silverthorne uses the Green Sol brand, certified by the Environmental Protection Agency, for all cleaning. The EPA ensures chemicals are not present in harmful quantities and that they break down in an appropriate period of time, for the health of the environment and people. “We want to look out for the environment and the health of our guests and staff. Many of the leading cleaning brands have carcinogens,” said Paul Knapp, general manager at the Quality Inn. “That’s not something we want to purchase.”Breckenridge Grand Vacation’s Breckenridge Inn is currently testing a Green Sol brand and considering switching out all lodging cleaners. Book Breck lodging purchases only green lines for their lodging and Ski Village Resorts in Breckenridge is also switching out industrial cleaners for a green line. It is getting easier to do so as many major distributors, like Western Paper, now offer a green line alternative to standard cleaners, according to Greene. For products sold in the local store, an independent rating company, the Environmental Working Group evaluates a wide range of cleaning products, at ewg.org.”Lodging companies often have individual cleaners available for guests in lodging units, and also industrial-strength cleaners used by their cleaning crews,” Greene said. “There are different certifications for each, so it takes some research.”