‘Green Lodging Program’ aims to increase eco-friendly tourism opportunities

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association (AzLTA) have partnered to create a Certified Green Lodging program in Arizona.

Through the program, local hotels, resorts, and other lodging facilities can reduce their ecological footprint while also increasing their ability to attract environmentally-friendly travelers.

“We’re trying to give hotels and resorts ways in which they can reduce their impact on the environment. So, ways they can conserve energy, water, divert waste, and then pollution prevention techniques to reduce chemicals…[things] they use on site,” said ADEQ Recycling Coordinator J.B. Shaw.

Starting with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) checklist of approval, lodging companies can begin implementing conservation and sustainability techniques to reach different levels of certification.

First companies record their solid waste generated, chemical usage, water consumption, energy usage, and the amount of materials recycled.

Next, they submit the checklist of achievements for solid waste, energy, water, pollution prevention, and administrative management.

Based on the number of achievements they attain, a lodging facility can be certified a Palo Verde Trustee, Saguaro Bloom Guardian, or Cactus Wren Champion.

“By doing all these activities, they’re going to protect public health and the environment for all of Arizona,” Shaw said. “By participating, they’re going to help protect our environment.”

Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson is an example of a lodging company that has been practicing sustainability.

“As a locally-owned hotel with owners and employees active in the community, it’s important to us that we do our part to protect the natural environment,” Rita Dorsey Boutwell, director of training and development at Hotel Congress, said. “Plus, we want to show other hotels how these efforts can benefit their business.”

Some of the benefits of becoming a Green Lodging Provider are: approved use of AzLTA’s Green Lodging certification stickers, a listing on the AzLTA and AZ Office of Tourism websites, preferred status with companies looking for hotels that practice sustainability and maintain corporate social responsibility, and more.

“No matter where you travel in the world, taking care of the environment is a top priority. People travel from country to country, state to state, to see different environmental phenomenon – like the Grand Canyon,” Shaw said. “[Tourists] want to see recycling in a hotel, and they want to see that they’re composting or offering different options for straws and things like that. They’re coming to see some of our beautiful environment here in Arizona, and they want to know that we’re taking care of it as well.”

To learn more about the program, click here.

Emily Richardson

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