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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Type 1 Ecolabels – An International Perspective

GEN Logo 11-2010smallIn 1994, Green Seal was one of the original founders of an international organization for Type 1 Ecolabels – the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). Although GEN has been a major advocate and motivator for its members (ecolabelling programs around the world), many in Green Seal’s community are unfamiliar with GEN.

To provide a general introduction to GEN, Green Seal hosted a webinar on January 12th that featured presentations from the Chair of GEN, Bjorn-Erik Lonn, and from representatives of Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) and the Nordic Ecolabel.

Check out our recordings of the presentations below.

“The idea is to clearly identify the environmental leadership products in the market, help consumers to find them, and enhance the consumer confidence that the product actually is more environmentally preferable, therefore fighting greenwashing.” – Bjorn-Erik Lonn, Chair of the Global Ecollabeling Network (GEN).

“For businesses, an ecolabel is an effective way of measuring true environmental performance, the whole lifecycle of the product and communicating these credentials to consumers. For government, ecolabels are a tool to encourage behavior change in both consumers and producers to long-term sustainability. ” – Shaila Divakarla, Standards and Technical Manager at GECA.

In 2017, Green Seal intends to host several related webinars that will dive into the purpose, processes, and positive market effects of Type 1 Ecolabels. Stay tuned for announcements of a future webinar that make take place in April 2017.

Questions or comments about this webinar? Email us anytime at Standards@greenseal.org.

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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The Benefits of Buying Green on Campus and Beyond

Daniel PedersenBy Daniel Pedersen, Ph.D., Green Seal’s VP of Science & Standards

The AASHE STARS program can serve as a road-map to more sustainable purchasing policies. Green purchasing can benefit higher education campuses in many ways, and even drive the sustainability of the broader market.

What’s to be gained from green purchasing? First of all, green products are reliable and cost-effective; the myth that they are more expensive and don’t work as well was debunked long ago. Environmentally-preferable products are specified by half of the state governments in the U.S.; if these products didn’t cut the mustard, states would have dropped them.

Second, any sustainable purchasing on campus can be used to strengthen your green branding, marketing, and alumni/customer relations. As we all know, there is increased interest among students, faculty, and employees in attending a sustainable college. (more…)

Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference 2015

MacHeadshotBy Mac Clevenger, Green Seal Marketing & Outreach Associate

Greetings Green Seal blog readers! This is Mac Clevenger – newest member of the Green Seal family – writing from Green Seal’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Today, I’m going to talk about the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference (affectionately known as “SSCC”) that I had the pleasure of attending and exhibiting at just last week in Baltimore with my fellow Green Seal-er, Susan Heaton. Many thanks to the University of Maryland for putting together such a wonderful two days and congratulations to SSCC on ten years!

1SSCC 10 year anniv

So, what is SSCC all about you ask? Well, allow me to enlighten you. In short, SSCC concerns sustainability at our higher education institutions. Ten years ago when SSCC was first held, sustainability was still in its adolescent years. The world has come a long way since then and I cannot tell you how impressive the work that our colleges and universities are doing in order protect our planet and the beings that inhabit it.

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Why a Book?

Arthur-ColorBy Arthur Weissman, Ph.D, Green Seal President/CEO

I’d like to tell you about a book I’ve just had published.  Why I wrote the book.  Coming blogs will discuss various themes of the book.  It’s entitled, In the Light of Humane Nature:  Human Values, Nature, the Green Economy, and Environmental Salvation.  If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, please read on.

I have been in the environmental field for more years than I care to say – not just because I am reticent about my age, but because the environmental movement over this time hasn’t succeeded in forestalling environmental demise.  Despite many environmental laws, regulations, and incentive programs and the growth of the “green economy” in recent years, most of our vital indicators continue to spiral downward.  That is why I wrote the book, unashamedly and perhaps grandiosely:  to try through another channel to help turn the tide. (more…)