EPA's 'Green' Idea

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as we noted in a recent daily e-mail to our subscribers, has announced that it has adopted a new set of criteria when selecting hotels and conference centers.

The agency plans to "give preference to facilities which consume less and manage their resources in environmentally positive ways." Moreover, the agency hopes its new policies will serve as a template for other agencies "in the march toward a greener government."

To determine the environmental sensitivity of a particular facility, the EPA will evaluate the responses to a 14-point checklist, to wit:

*A recycling program

*A linen/towel reuse option that is communicated to guests

*Easy access to public transportation or shuttle services

*A policy to turn off lighting and air conditioning when rooms are not in use

*Bulk dispensers or reusable containers for beverages, food, and condiments

*Reusable serving utensils, napkins and tablecloths when food and beverages are served

*An energy efficiency program

*A water-conservation program

*Paperless check-in and check-out for guests

*Use of recycled or recyclable products

*Employee training on these green activities

*Other "green" environmental initiatives such as receiving environment-related certifications, participating in EPA voluntary partnerships, supporting a green suppliers network, etc.

*Food sources from local growers or a policy to consider the growing practices of farmers who provide the food

*A policy to use bio-based or biodegradable products, including bio-based cafeteria ware

Such policies might be both laudable and economically worthwhile for hoteliers. But we question, however, whether it is appropriate for a government agency to employ such criteria.

The EPA spends more than $50 million annually for travel, and much of that figure pays for hotels and meeting spaces. Large as that figure might seem, it's only a tiny fraction of the federal government's $14 billion annual travel/meetings budget.

Just as the suddenly fashionable use of ethanol as automobile fuel might have the unanticipated effect of raising food prices, while doing nothing to reduce our dependency upon foreign oil, imposing "green" criteria upon federal meeting planners might have a negligible positive effect upon the environment.

But we can be sure of one thing. It will increase the EPA's travel/meetings budget.

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This page contains a single entry by published on July 30, 2007 11:44 AM.

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