Inn by the Sea: The LEED-er in Maine’s Sustainability Movement
By Rauni Kew Public Relations & Green Program Manager, Inn by the Sea | May 05, 2013
Sustainability is not just the most responsible approach to hotel operations, but can be an efficient and powerful tool for generating revenue. Hoteliers generally agree sustainable operations are financially beneficial and most have realized savings from reductions around waste, water, energy and chemicals. But many still hesitate to market their properties’ green initiatives. Inn by the Sea, on the coast of Maine, has had green design features coupled with guest-centric programs around sustainability in place for over a decade, and has had great success marketing the property as both a luxury and a green hotel.
Checking in on staying green: benefitting from sustainable hotel programs
Inn by the Sea has a long list of green firsts. It was the first hotel in Maine to build a Silver LEED© certified spa, to have dual flush toilets, to be carbon neutral and to heat with biofuel. The Inn has solar panels, recycled rubber floors and recycled cork floors, recycled sheet rock walls, uses low or no VOC paint and Green Seal cleaners.
However, unless they’re incredibly eco-minded, most consumers don’t want to hear about businesses’ initiatives around waste or energy. Happily, the same is not true when it comes to green initiatives that engage the guest in a unique or authentic experience —a good story around food that’s local, a class on how to plant beautiful nectar gardens to support endangered butterflies, or an educational hotel package that includes hauling lobster with the crew of a real lobster boat.
Success at marketing Inn by the Sea as a green hotel has come through programs that connect the guest to the Inn’s location and environmental message through food, whimsy, education, and support for the local community and celebrating “sense of place”. Every hotel, urban or rural, operates in their own unique setting comprised of its natural environment, history, culture, people, traditions and native foods. Preservation and celebration of a hotel’s “sense of place” is not only an important piece of sustainability, but offers limitless opportunities to educate and engage guests in interesting and meaningful ways around a green hotel’s commitment to sustainability, without being boring or preachy.
The term ‘Green Hotel” has evolved. Originally the term was a catch all for properties with almost any innovation that reduced water, waste, energy or chemicals, while saving money. But that bar has risen rapidly over the last decade. No longer considered ‘ innovations’, a green hotel is expected to do all the above, and also work to preserve the natural environment, support its community, celebrate all things local, and educate staff and guests on sustainability.
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