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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Green Kleening Your Community One Building at a Time

MisterKleen EricKoch headshotBy Eric Koch, Mister Kleen Maintenance Company, Inc. Sales and Marketing Specialist

The cleaning industry certainly has evolved throughout the decades. This is especially true as it relates to the environmental movement, and the push for a healthier atmosphere using greener products, processes, and equipment.

While the 1970’s saw the creation of the EPA and OSHA, along with our very first Earth Day, it wasn’t until years later that we started to hear people talk more about cleaning for a healthier environment — “Cleaning for Health”.

Just Make it Look Clean!

Cleaning for Appearance was the phrase and direction we often received from clients throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and midway through the 90’s. There was no concern on the chemicals being used and the impact this was causing to building tenants and our employees. Our main objective was to make it look clean regardless of the impact these harsh chemicals had.

Flash forward to today and the conversation has changed to use green products to clean without releasing harsh odors that other chemical laden products have. This is what our green cleaning program, known as Green Kleen, is centered on to provide a healthier environment for us all.

Yes, being certified as a green cleaning company to Green Seal’s GS-42 Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services standard is a differentiator for our company. What many people don’t know, however, is how green cleaning is near and dear to our story. (more…)

Insights from Inside the Green Office Partnership Program

This blog post describes the Green Seal Green Office Partnership Program experience from the perspective of a partner organization — the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Green Seal recently honored the IEEE Washington Office as a Green Office Partner for promoting a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable work environment.

The office, serving as IEEE-USA and IEEE Computer Society headquarters, was among 14 in the Washington metropolitan area to receive recognition in The Green Seal Green Office Partnership Program. It was chosen for a workplace sustainability review in September 2014, courtesy of the American Society of Association Executives Foundation, which provided a $500 grant to support the activity.

Green Seal Project Coordinator Ben Walsh toured the national capital workspace with a 45-item checklist, evaluating it against a set of mandatory and optional criteria:

  • Waste reduction & recycling
  • Office supplies
  • IT equipment & management
  • Kitchen & pantry supplies
  • Operational systems
  • Transportation
  • Staff training & education

(more…)

My Internship with Green Seal

HeadshotBy Allison Killius, Green Seal’s Science & Standards Intern, Spring 2015

I began interning with Green Seal in March of 2015. I was looking for some work experience before returning to grad school in the fall, and one of my friends from Tulane University, Lisa Nash, told me about the environmental nonprofit she recently began working for, Green Seal. I applied for an internship and was invited to begin working with Brie and Daniel of the Science and Standards department.

My first few assignments helped me become familiar with the Green Seal website, certified products, and the many steps that go into developing and revising Green Seal Standards. My experience with Green Seal inspired me to become a more mindful consumer, introduced me to the rigorous process of stakeholder-based standard development, and allowed me to develop as a professional. (more…)

Sustainability – Fueled by Social Media

Nathan HeadshotBy Nathan Strauss, Green Seal Intern – Spring 2015

What’s something that popular social media pages share in common? Posts that are sharable and useful.

As the green economy continues to grow, companies that prove themselves to be leaders in sustainability are beginning to gain an edge amongst consumers. More often than not, one of the most effective ways to portray their sustainable commitments is through the use of eco-labels, like the Green Seal. Product labels are excellent promotion tools, because of how they clue audiences in to a general theme—they can be promoted across many posts to drive home the same point (in the case of eco-labels, sustainability).

Similarly, one of the most effective ways to promote these commitments is through the use of social media. As a marketing tool, social media is invaluable, as it provides companies with an opportunity to form a relationship with their consumers.

As a communications student, I’ve seen first hand the impact that social media can have on an organization’s ability to engage its followers. With so many consumers, myself included, regularly interacting on social media platforms it is by far the most efficient way to broadcast one’s message to a larger audience—particularly when done strategically. (more…)

The Financial Benefits of Sustainability Initiatives

Kerianne MastersonBy Keri Masterson, Green Seal Marketing Intern

In recent years, the topic of sustainability has emerged as an area of increasing focus across the business sector with large upside potential as a tool for creating value in both the developed and developing world.

Sustainability, which takes many definition forms, involves the combination of environmental, social, and economic values, or a method of production today that does not diminish the potential for future production. In the business sense, this is the triple bottom line.

Although many businesses acknowledge this indisputable trend and see sustainability as a noble pursuit, there is a persistent disconnect between industry, leaders, and those concerned with the triple bottom line (although not as severe a divide now as it used to be).

The problem arises from the very essence of a business model driving shareholder value and profit is the ultimate goal and measure of a company’s success. The fact of the matter is that sustainability is not yet at the core of most business structures, and the corporate world has a natural tendency to focus on the last two words of the triple bottom line.  (more…)

Wicked Problems & an Example: Greenwashing

Molly Buxton Headshot By GS Summer Intern Molly Buxton, West Virginia University

Molly’s post is the first in a two-part series covering the idea of wicked problems and the examination of greenwashing as a wicked problem.


 

When discussing my major—Design Studies—the topic always becomes, “What is Design Studies?”

My answer to that question is: design studies, although within the name, isn’t your typical design major; it isn’t a studio course where you design a room, or a building, or an article of clothing, but rather a thought-based program where you design ideas.

As a design studies student, we’re constantly asking the question “how can we make it better?”

(more…)