New Administration, New World for Going Green

By Jim Poad Director of Client Solutions, Advantage IQ | August 03, 2010

In January, the United States inaugurated its forty-fourth commander in chief and ushered in what's largely considered to be a landmark administration. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their cabinet, have promised sweeping policy changes in several areas.

Among the list of Obama's priority issues are the economy, healthcare, foreign policy, and of course energy and the environment as global climate change is one of the fastest growing points of anxiety for America. His plans to address global climate change caused by carbon emissions have been intensely analyzed by policy makers and the media.

For business operators who have launched green initiatives or incorporated them into their 2009 budget, it is important to consider how changing energy policy could potentially affect plans to go green. In general, the proposed policies will make green initiatives more of a financial priority for businesses. At the same time, more businesses will be able to meet newly set emission standards with access to cheaper green energy and efficiency technologies.

Proposed Energy Policy and Effects

The proposed energy plan features two key plans of action with the potential to dramatically affect the way American businesses consume energy: A $150 billion investment in clean energy and energy efficient technology over the next ten years, as well as a plan to implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Show Me the Money" An infusion of $15 billion a year, while not enough to solve the environmental crisis at hand, is a solid start. This much needed investment will drive innovation in renewable energy and clean, efficient technology.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.