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How Do You Green-Certify Your B&B?

April 7, 2010

by Kit Cassingham

What are some simple things you can do to green your inn and prepare you for acquiring your green certification? I see three levels of action -- low hanging fruit, pricier green actions, and expensive, effective actions.

The first steps you take toward green operations and green certification go together.


  1. start with expanding our attitude and knowledge

  2. baseline your existing usage of energy, water, waste and chemicals

  3. get staff, vendors and guests involved

  4. write your green/sustainability plan and policy

  5. track usage in action areas

  6. plan your marketing program, including not raising your rates just because you are "green"

  7. develop education programs for staff, vendor, guests and public


What are some of the standard green actions you may already be taking, the "low hanging fruit" actions that are easy and inexpensive to adopt? Here are just a very few ideas of what I mean about low hanging fruit:.

  • sheet and towel reuse program
  • CLFs (compact fluorescent bulbs) and LEDs (light emitting diodes), and timers too
  • recycling bins at the inn, and in the guestrooms
  • bulk toiletry dispensing (with quality, non irritating products)
  • natural fiber linens
  • chemical-free, or environmentally friendly, cleaning
  • adjust your thermostats: lower in the cooler months and higher in the warmer months
  • compost, directly or indirectly
  • promote your green actions on your website
  • join a green association and/or get listed on a green hotel directory

How about the next level of commitment, the pricier green actions? Which of those have you adopted, plan to adopt, or can adopt now?


  • replace water hogging fixtures with water conserving fixtures

  • organic food

  • locally sourced food

  • replace energy hogging appliances with energy efficient appliances

The step that many think they can't afford but often have the highest pay back and the biggest impact in helping the environment include:


  • replace your furnace or HVAC system

  • install alternative energy (solar -- electric or hot water, or wind

  • increase insulation around the inn -- attic and walls

  • replace old windows with energy efficient ones

Here are a few facts to consider as you start thinking about your green plan:


  • 23 states have green certification programs (as of 3/2010: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin)

  • nationally (US) there are three green-certification programs (Energy Star, Green Seal/GS-33 Lodging Properties, and LEED)

  • internationally three standing out from a global perspective (ISO 14001, Global Sustainable Tourism, and Green Globe)

  • countries all around the globe have programs too (Canada, Costa Rica, Japan, Norway, Korea, India, Singapore, France, and Australia, to name just a few)

  • cities around the US also have green-certification programs

Why do you want to be a green-certified bed and breakfast? To:


  • Create a healthier and safer environment for the occupants of your inn.

  • Conserve the ecosystem, local landscape and biodiversity to preserve the attraction of your area.

  • Conserve water and energy so there will be plenty for years to come.

  • Demonstrate your environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and sustainable management commitment.

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value.

  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.

  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

  • Reduce waste sent to landfills, preserving the health of the earth.

Today's as a good a day as any to start making your B&B greener. Start with a plan, assisted by employees, vendors, and guests if you want real buy-in. Use the eight areas many green-certification programs focus on to help you start your plan. Chemicals, energy, waste, buying/procurement, water, building, food and air quality. Act.




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