Greening Your Resort
By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010
Nowhere does the conventional clash between comfort and guest satisfaction, on the one hand, and the stereotypical austerity of sustainability, on the other, become as intense as at properties designed as playgrounds and pleasure places for guests - resorts foremost among them. Does a concern with fostering human health and environmental quality have a role here?
Given the title of this article and its author, you could presume we think it does. As with spas (described in an earlier article in this series), the concept of promoting a more healthful place in which to play, eat, and sleep is fully compatible with the goals of resorts. With people spending most of their awake time at resorts, in contrast to many other kinds of properties, and wanting to derive maximum pleasure from their stay, all the benefits of a greener environment come into play.
We consider a resort a lodging property that has a number of associated facilities for outdoor and indoor entertainment, such as golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, skiing, basketball, and billiards. The property generally features more upscale accommodations and dining. According to the AH&LA, in the United States (as of 2005) there are 3835 properties classified as resorts with an average size of 150 rooms.
To make a resort most sustainable, one should look at all of its facilities in terms of opportunities to incorporate greener products, systems, and operating procedures. There exist, for example, programs and certification schemes for "greening" golf courses that address such issues as use of water, pesticides, and fertilizers. Rather than attempt to cover all of these individual components, however, this article will examine the cross-cutting environmental issues of resorts. These include minimizing their actual environmental footprint on the landscape and associated ecosystem; avoiding cross-contamination; increasing efficiencies and reducing waste; and promoting more healthful and resource-efficient playstyles.
The Landscape Footprint
In the technical sense of the phrase, environmental footprint, we would analyze the true impact of a resort not only directly on the landscape but also in terms of all the resources it consumes and the pollution it produces - the footprint being the equivalent amount of land needed to support the resort. Given the complexity of this concept, we will address here only its actual physical impact on the surrounding landscape and its natural habitats, biological communities, and their functions (known collectively as ecosystems).