Can Your Business Trip Be Green? You Bet, And Here\’s How

Businesses will spend close to $300 billion on travel this year. That’s a lot of jet fuel, hotel sheets to wash, and the list goes on and on.

The challenge: How do we travel as economically as possible, meet our goals, and at the same time, reduce our environmental impact. Is that possible? Absolutely. Let’s start with those sheets we just mentioned — the hotel industry. When you choose a hotel, remember that some care more about their carbon footprint than others, and it\’s important to ask, if it’s important to you. Sixty-eight percent are using high-efficiency LED lights, and the industry has seen a 34 percent increase in recycling. The hotel industry created a consortium of players working on the greening of their supply chain. From these efforts, eco-labels are now being awarded to greener hotels. For instance:

Element Hotels, a Starwood brand that includes properties around the country, recently announced that all of its hotels are 100 percent powered by renewable energy, by purchasing renewable energy credits from their local utility or other provider. These credits guarantee that the energy each hotel uses is added to the power grid from a renewable source, such as wind, hydroelectric, solar or geothermal sources. The chain also uses low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets, recycled tile flooring and has electric vehicle charging stations. Even the gym has become greener. Element Hotels has also launched what it calls Pedal Powered Charging Stations in its fitness centers, allowing guests to power up their personal devices during a stationary bike workout.

Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Wyoming is another property that offsets its electric and natural gas power with the purchase of alternative, clean energy. Its roof shingles are 100 percent recycled, and water-conservation systems are used in public and guest room bathrooms; in men’s public restrooms, the urinals are waterless and all public restrooms have solar-powered faucets.

The Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco is a leading example of eco-friendly accommodations in the city by the bay. This LEED-certified property offers a “Green Meetings Package” that includes use of meeting space with recycled notepads with soy-based ink pens that attendees can keep, as well as recycled/recyclable to-go containers for boxed lunches. The hotel’s eco-friendly approach also includes low-flow water faucets and toilets, recycled paper, and composting for kitchen waste. In-room recycling bins allow guests to separate their own glass and paper as they throw away things — after all, everyone can play a role in conversation.

Hotels are just one aspect of what you can do — on a more personal level, you can take small steps that have big outcomes. If possible, fly less. Flying may be unavoidable in many instances, but there are things you can consider when it comes to air travel and car rentals :

  • Fly nonstop when possible; you\’ll get there faster and reduce emissions. Will a train do? Use alternative modes of transportation whenever possible.
  • Plan trips wisely; try to plan meetings back-to-back so you can take one flight to the furthest destination and then work your way back home.
  • When you leave home, carry the green with you. From your carry-on bag to your toiletry kit and clothes, make eco-friendly purchases whenever possible. Some things to look for include: PVC-free bags, Naturally-occurring fibers (cotton, bamboo), Toiletry items made from organic materials and without animal testing.
  • When you’re traveling to a metropolitan area, skip the car rental. If you can, skip the car rental altogether and take public transportation instead. Headed to the boonies? Other alternatives for cutting back on car emissions include sharing a car or renting hybrids. In either instance, you’re saving your company money, too.

Lastly, conserve on the road. From recycling to carrying your own water bottle and switching off lights and electronics when not in use, pretend you are footing the bill for all of your energy use. You likely watch the thermostat and long showers at home, so don\’t give up that thrifty spirit on the road. Some other ways to cut back:

  • Hang up those towels; follow any hotel guidelines for conserving towel use.
  • Don\’t be wasteful; tote partially-used hotel toiletries home to the kids.
  • Greening up your business travel won’t cost you more, helps out the planet, and in the end, feels pretty good.


Source: Billings Gazette

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