An Inside Look: UCSB-Bren School Study Quantifies GHG Reductions of Green Seal-Certified Hotels in L.A.

In a market full of different certifiers, it is important for hotels to distinguish between a green-washed standard and one with real environmental benefits.

Green Seal recently collaborated with the Bren School of Environmental Sciences and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on a year-long study to quantify the environmental benefits (in terms of greenhouse gas [GHG] reductions) for hotels in the City of Los Angeles that are certified under Green Seal’s hotel standard (GS-33).

Let’s go back a few years to get the full picture…. in 2008, the City of Los Angeles recognized the role hotels can play in reducing the city’s overall GHG emissions, and created the Los Angeles Green Lodging Program (LAGLP) to meet its Climate Action Plan goals.  Green Seal was selected as the official certifier for the LAGLP, which now has 7 certified participating hotels including: JW Marriott Los Angeles LIVE, Hilton Universal City, Hilton Los Angeles Airport, Sheraton Gateway, Crowne Plaza, Westin Bonaventure, and Westin Los Angeles Airport. Los Angeles now has more Green Seal-certified hotels than any city in the nation (over 6 million square feet certified), with a number of additional hotels in the process of getting certified.  Until the recent Bren Study, however, neither the City nor Green Seal had a quantitative metric of the environmental benefits of the LAGLP.

The Bren team used electricity consumption data from 6 certified hotels in Los Angeles, and found that on average:

  • entering at Bronze level saw 2.8% reduction in GHG emissions,
  • those progressing to Silver saw an added reduction of 8.8% (hotels entering directly at Silver would see a 2.8% + 8.8% = 11.6% reduction)
  • those progressing to Gold saw a further reduction of 18.2% (hotels entering directly at Gold would see a 11.6% + 18.2% = 29.8% reduction)

The Bren team took this study one step further to see how Green Seal certification benefits a hotel itself. They conducted surveys of over 1000 participants and found that consumers were willing to pay $6.50 more per night for hotels with demonstrated sustainability measures.

A case study by the Bren team showed that meeting the most basic requirement in the GS-33 standard of upgrading lighting (mandated by the Bronze level), can reduce a hotel’s emissions by a total of 1,066 MT CO2 annually, which is equivalent to emissions from 225 passenger vehicles driven for a year. Furthermore, these replacements reaped financial benefits as well: over a 20-year project cash flow period, the hotel would see $1,562,157 in cumulative savings from avoided utility costs.  Hotels can target lighting upgrades as “low-hanging fruit” that yield higher benefits than costs.

GS Blog Infographic

Finally, the Bren team also created a user-friendly Excel-based tool that can be used by an individual hotel to calculate its GHG reductions and financial savings from different energy and electricity reduction projects undertaken because of Green Seal certification. This tool can be used by hotel managers and engineers to calculate their GHG and long-term financial savings.

As hotels across the globe increasingly embrace green practices, it is important for the lodging industry to pursue practices with real environmental benefits. Hotels can be one of the most energy and GHG intensive buildings, as they tend to keep lights on throughout hallways at night or run thermostats even when there are no occupants in the room. Green Seal’s GS-33 Hotels and Lodging Properties standard requires hotels to upgrade their energy intensive equipment and to integrate sustainability practices in their daily operations.

The Bren study strengthens the findings of an independent study by Washington State University, which stated that:  “The single most important thing is to become certified by an independent and credible agency such as Green Seal and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), the major certification programs in the lodging industry.”


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Earth Day with Airlie

By Mac Clevenger, Green Seal’s Marketing & Outreach Associate

This year I had the pleasure of celebrating Earth Day with (and at) one of Green Seal’s certified clients, Airlie. Airlie has been certified to the standard GS-33 Hotels and Lodging Properties since 2004. Certification to the standard GS-33 represents THE highest level of commitment to human and environmental health in the hospitality industry.

Earth Day is near and dear to both Airlie and Green Seal. After first introducing the idea for Earth Day at Airlie, Senator Gaylord Nelson selected Denis Hayes the first CEO and Chair of Green Seal – to organize the very first Earth Day in 1970. Following the success of the first Earth Day, Denis founded the Earth Day Network which eventually propelled the holiday to the international stage in 1990, organizing events in 141 nations. And now, at least according to Denis, Earth Day is “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.”

Senator Gaylord Nelson

Senator Gaylord Nelson

Denis Hayes

Denis Hayes

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An Interview with Green Seal’s Own Farmer, Pt.1

CC and asparagus

Explore the smart and practical world of a CSA farm. Chelsea Chandler, Environmental Scientist and Certification Project Manager at Green Seal, takes us through her experience of managing a CSA farm outside Madison, Wisconsin.

How did you get into farming?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and was pretty removed from farming beyond some backyard gardening and a great appreciation for all the fresh food grown in my home state.

I had been a member of a few different Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms over the years, and then really just dove into farming. I learned how to drive a tractor at my godfather’s grass-fed beef operation and farm stay, which my partner, Scott, and I visited frequently while living in Seattle. Farm stays, a growing phenomenon in the United States, offer travelers an opportunity to vacation in and experience a rural farm setting. Scott had a little more experience doing a work share for a CSA farm outside of Seattle.

Scott and I started talking about pairing our sometimes more abstract environmental policy work with the tangible work of growing food that is good for people and the environment. I’m enthusiastic about creating a model for sustainable food production and consumption and empowering local communities to adopt healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. (more…)

Celebrate the National Parks with Sustainable Travel

fdrBy Ben Walsh, Green Seal’s Project Coordinator

When people think of National Parks, most think of majestic vistas and wilderness locations.  However, there are 409 parks throughout the country that include National Parks, National Battlefields, National Seashores, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites.  Washington, DC, itself has 23 different National Parks including the White House.  I am privileged to be a volunteer at a number of those with the National Mall & Memorial Parks.

In addition to my work with Green Seal, I’ve always been a fan of the National Parks and a history buff.  Looking for a chance to get outside and connect with people, I became a Volunteer in the Parks (VIP) in 2009.  For the last seven years, I have been honored to work at some of our nations most visited and most hallowed memorials. I’ve met soldiers who stormed the beaches at Iwo Jima, couples that marched with Dr. King, and family members who broke down crying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have been lucky enough to hear their stories and then re-tell them to the next generation, to the millions of students who come to D.C. to learn about their history. My day job involves enhancing suitability through researching best practices and environmental criteria, while my weekend job allows me to bring the parks alive for visitors and show them why conservation and protection is important.  (more…)

Celebrating a Green Revolution in the Cleaning Industry

25 and Counting Ad final design layers

This month Green Seal exhibited at the ISSA/Interclean Expo for the 9th straight year. We were happy to welcome nearly 70 exhibitors that offer Green Seal-certified products, 13 of which are celebrating 11 years with Green Seal. Our standards for sustainable products and services have revolutionized the cleaning industry and inspired real and permanent change. This year our our SCIENCE & SERVICE message really resonated—everyone likes good customer service—and our visitors enjoyed “mugging” for the camera with Green Seal staff!

Green Seal and USDA BioPreferred

Whitaker

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Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Achieves GOLD!

Hotel guests are demanding safer and more sustainable lodging options. And it is because of this commitment of caring for guests and staff that Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is at the forefront of adopting practices that are more environmentally favorable and better for human health and safety.

Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is the second hotel in California and fifth nationwide to achieve Gold level certification under the Green Seal GS-33 Standard for Lodging Properties. The hotel was first certified in 2010. It is also one of the hotels in the LA Green Lodging Program, a partnership between the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation, The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and Green Seal.

As a Gold certified property, Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City meets the standard’s rigorous criteria and is raising the bar of leadership– practicing it on a daily basis. (more…)

How To Become a Green Office Partner

Headshot Dec 2013By Ben Walsh, Green Seal Project Coordinator

We spend roughly one third of our day in an office consuming energy and interacting with the environment around us.  Have you ever wondered if you and your office are doing everything possible to save money and protect the environment?  This is where the Green Seal™ Green Office Partnership Program comes in.  In 2014, Green Seal piloted a checklist in association with the ASAE Foundation and Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston—the major donors of the pilot program.

Since launching the program last year, the following fourteen offices have met the criteria to obtain Green Partner status:

  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
  • American Society of Association Executives
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Building Owners and Managers Association International
  • Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Investment Adviser Association
  • League of American Bicyclists
  • Metacred, Inc.
  • National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association
  • Whiteford, Taylor, and Preston, LLP
Reception celebrating the new Green Office Partners

Reception celebrating the newest Green Office Partners

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