When the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program was launched some five years ago, most hotels joined as a way to figure out what being green meant in their business.This year, two new hotels - the newest additions to the program - are demonstrating the change in attitude that has taken place in the state's hospitality industry.The Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Keene and Residence Inn Portsmouth Downtown/Waterfront, both managed by Colwen Hotel Management, recognize that both business travelers and tourists are looking for greener overnight accommodations.The Courtyard by Marriott, Keene's newest hotel, was built to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new buildings, the first to do so in the Monadnock Region.The Residence Inn Portsmouth opened in the spring as the first LEED-certified hotel in the Port City. In their construction, 80 percent of construction waste was recycled or reused, resulting in over 81 tons of debris diverted from landfills.Recycling goals were achieved by reusing such materials as concrete sidewalks and pads for structural fill and recycling metals and other debris.Forty percent of all of the building materials for the structures came from within 500 miles of each location.Both properties' green features also contribute to the comfort and health of guests, with design attributes like low-emissivity windows that open for fresh air and are situated to provide as much natural light as possible.Low volatile organic compound products also were used in the construction, including paints, sealants, coatings and carpet components - meaning guests can enjoy clean air when staying at these properties.Environmental policyThe Colwen management team developed an environmental policy for each site that "recognizes our environmental responsibility and is committed to improving our performance towards a sustainable future - all while enhancing the guest and team member experience."Among those environmental efforts is the use of energy-efficient lighting, the latest technology in occupancy sensors, Energy Star appliances and heat recovery systems.Water conservation is achieved with high-performance showerheads and toilets and an optional towel and linen reuse program for guests.Waste reduction in the operation of the hotel is achieved through recycling, a focus on purchasing items that can be reused and come with minimal packaging waste as well as purchasing products made from rapid renewable sources.Green Seal-certified cleaning products mean hazardous chemicals often used in cleaning are not found at these hotels."It was obvious in auditing the Courtyard by Marriott Keene and Residence Inn Portsmouth Downtown that the management team had taken the time to do it right," said Michelle Veasey, manager of the Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program. "They have not only implemented a wide range of environmental initiatives, but they have also put their commitment down on paper, developing an environmental policy, an environmentally focused purchasing policy and a sustainability statement. Changes in personnel will not mean that these efforts are lost - they are more likely to be continued and built on when they are documented."
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This article appears in the August 27 2010 issue of New Hampshire Business Review