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Do You Want To Green-Certify Your B&B?

April 4, 2010

by Kit Cassingham

Green certification for bed and breakfasts is one sure way to have an environmentally friendly operation that guests and staff will love.

Should a bed and breakfast go through a green certification process or not? I can, and have, argued both sides of that question.

I know of properties that are greener than a certification program would lead them to be, if they only followed the certification guidelines. I've seen certified green properties operate in an un-green way, breaking the certification agreement they signed. Either you're green or your not, though there are shades of green you can attain with or without certification. What statement do you want to make about your environmental actions?

For the same reasons you get inspected and approved for your local B&B group or travel group, join the Chamber, or get an historic landmark designation, you get certified as a green B&B. What are your thoughts and attitudes about certification and membership?

PAII asked me to speak at their March 2010 conference in Austin, Texas, about incentives for becoming green, and I translated that to "8 Areas of Focus for Becoming a Green Certified B&B Inn". So first, let's talk about reasons to certify, what some of the basic actions you can take are, and cover some basic facts. Once the foundation is laid I will go into detail for each of the eight areas of concern many certification programs focus on.

During the presentation one innkeeper asked me which certification program was the best. I didn't have an immediate answer for him, though I shared my thoughts on the pros and cons. Subsequently I've realized that the best one to pursue is probably LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) because it's helping change the way builders build, not just the way operators operate. That kind of grass-roots change we need to see.

First, I'd like to talk about two terms that are sometimes interchanged: green and sustainable. Sustainability the sum of the 3Ps -- people, planet, profit. It refers to the social, environmental and financial aspects of business. Green is the environmental of sustainability. Both green and sustainability rely on the 4Rs -- reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink. You could go on with the Rs that can be integrated into your life and business, but I think the most important "R" is rethink.

Rethinking the way you operate your inn and the way you live will go a long way in improving the green-ness of your inn, how sustainable your bed and breakfast is. Rethinking your habits will lead to reduced consumption which in turn leads to less need to recycle and more reason to reuse.

In reading the book Cradle to Cradle by McDonough and Braungart I was reminded of mother nature's cycle of reusing waste to create more abundance. It goes like this: A cherry tree's blossoms become food or drop to the ground to rot and nourish the soil. Blossoms, limbs and leaves also return to the ground and help nourish the tree for another cycle of blossoms. It's a pretty clever system humans would do well to adopt.

What's your attitude about being certified at this point? You going green and showing the world with a green certification for your bed and breakfast?

For information on how to green-certify your B&B see my article How Do You Green-Certify Your B&B




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