Discover the Financial Benefits of Going Green with the LA Green Lodging Program
By Marky Moore Founder, Capital Review Group | November 2014
Los Angeles is in trouble. The city continues to top the list as the most polluted metropolis in the country, posing a threat not only to the beauty of its glimmering skyline but to the health of its millions of inhabitants and annual visitors.(1) California is in the throes of the worst drought in the state's recorded history, and experts fear that the lushness of LA's landscape betrays the reality that the state has only enough water in storage to sustain itself for the next twelve to eighteen months (2). Environmentally-speaking, the City of Angels is falling from grace.
Fortunately, a driven alliance of government and nonprofit leaders has emerged with the goal of encouraging and assisting private businesses to green their operations. Their objective is to reverse LA's unimpressive environmental record and establish it as the greenest city in the country. As a major consumer of coveted natural resources, the hotel industry is well-poised to help advance these goals. Mayor Garcetti has already reached out to the city's hoteliers, urging them to make environmentally-conscious improvements to their businesses. In helping the city achieve its objectives, hotels will not only assume a stewardship role for the Earth, but will also unleash a multitude of benefits that will ultimately improve their brand images and bolster their bottom lines.
Among the organizations that serve as beacons guiding businesses in their quests to go green, the Los Angeles Green Lodging Program and the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge have proven to be particularly instrumental. Operated by the City Bureau of Sanitation, the LA Green Lodging Program is a function of the overarching LA Green Business Certification Program, which seeks to promote businesses that voluntarily operate in a more environmentally-conscious and sustainable fashion. The goal of the program is to enable environmentally-minded consumers to easily choose green hotels when planning their visits to Los Angeles while rewarding hotels that have gone green through increased marketing and publicity. Certifications for the LA Green Lodging Program are awarded by Green Seal, a non-profit organization with a mission of empowering consumers to choose environmentally-sustainable businesses and products (3). Green Seal provides specific enumerated standards that function as a blueprint for hoteliers to ensure that they are taking the right steps in their pursuits to green their operations. To attain certification as a green business under the LA Green Lodging Program, hotels must comply with Green Seal's standards, as well as all local, state, and federal regulations (4).
The LA Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) can aid businesses seeking certification through the LA Green Lodging Program by offering a range of subsidized services and free resources to help deflect some of the upfront costs associated with going green. The LABBC is part of a national initiative sponsored by the US Department of Energy that aims to encourage public and private sector building owners to implement environmentally-friendly improvements. With the goal of creating twenty percent energy savings among thirty million square feet of buildings in Los Angeles by 2020, the LABBC is estimated to create over 7,000 high-quality jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road (5). While this goal may sound ambitious, the LABBC has seen tremendous success in the two years since its inception, and its leaders now expect that it will easily surpass the original objective of twenty percent energy savings.5). Enrolling in the LABBC is easy and the benefits are numerous. Applicants complete a simple two-page form. No fee is required, and there are no penalties if the applicant fails to meet the goal of a twenty percent reduction in energy usage (6).
By achieving certification through the LA Green Lodging Program, hotels are likely to enjoy increased bookings due to the simple fact that modern travelers look fondly upon green businesses. "Increasingly, tourists and event planners are paying attention to hotels' sustainability credentials," says David Hodgins, Executive Director of the LABBC and visionary in the energy efficiency movement. Statistics confirm Mr. Hodgins's observation: a 2008 Deloitte study found that thirty-eight percent of business travelers had actively taken steps to determine whether a hotel was green when booking travel plans, and forty percent would be willing to pay extra to stay at an environmentally-friendly hotel. An impressive ninety-five percent of respondents felt that hotels should be taking steps to green their operations (7). As sustainability becomes a top priority for an increasing number of people, these percentages are likely to rise.
Once certified, hotels can tap into a trove of marketing resources designed to attract environmentally-minded clientele. The Green Seal represents an objective, credible third party standard such that a hotel's claim of being green cannot be challenged.(8). Mr. Hodgins describes the Green Seal as "one of the three most nationally recognized green brands in the market, which hoteliers can proudly display to advertise and promote their properties." The federal government encourages its employees and event planners to patronize Green Seal-certified hotels as part of its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing guidelines. Considering that an estimated 93,000 federal employees are traveling on any given business day, Green Seal-certified hotels may experience a boost in business from government travelers alone (9). Mr. Hodgins notes that hotels certified through the LA Green Lodging Program will also benefit from marketing and promotion efforts on behalf of organizations like the LA Tourism and Convention Board and the LA Bureau of Sanitation, which provide links on their websites to Green Seal-certified businesses. Members of the LABBC can partake in educational and networking events with the LABBC's partners, including the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, the LA Business Council, and the LA Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)(10).