Thursday, April 22, 2010

Everyday is "Earth Day" at the Comfort Inn & Suites, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

More than a year and a half ago, I decided to convert my St. Johnsbury, Vermont hotel into an eco-friendly green property. My decision to "do the right thing" was based on many factors. First and foremost, the hotel's guests regularly wrote comment cards requesting green alternatives. The quaint village of St. Johnsbury is located in the heart of the Vermont's Green Mountains and is the gateway to the majestic "Northeast Kingdom". I understood our guests holding us to a higher standard and expectation. Ultimately, we agreed that we should do our part to preserve the natural beauty of the land around us. It should be stated for the record...I was not a "tree hugger" (not that there is anything wrong with hugging a tree). I've owned a pair (or two) of Birkenstocks, but "treehugger" was not often used to describe me. Two years later, I have to admit that what started as a test project has become much more important to me. I was impressed when my team of managers and staff supported the initial concepts. One person's idea led to another and before long we were addicted to saving energy and implementing eco-friendly concepts. The hotel's guests have joined in and are encouraged to submit their suggestions (many of which we have adopted). People and businesses avoid going green because they think it will cost to much. The truth is by "doing what is right"...we've improved guest satisfaction as well as increased our profitability. Eighteen months later we have implemented more than a dozen significant eco-friendly initiatives (and we're still not done). In the process, we've received nothing but praise and appreciation from our guests. Our guests are not the only ones that took notice. Next month we will be receiving an award from Jim Douglas, the Governor of Vermont. The award recognizes our steps in becoming a green hotel.

The hotel is recognized for it's green initiatives by Choice Hotels,
Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State, and Below is a list of some of the steps we took to make the Comfort Inn & Suites, St. Johnsbury, Vermont one of the state's most green eco-friendly hotels.

- Joined “Clean the World”…we collect the partially used bars of soap and shampoo which are sanitized and then shipped to third world countries. Instead of clogging up our landfills...we are literally saving lives.
- Introduced “
Taterware” plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons…a 100% compostable product made from potatoes.
- Operate an extensive recycling program...a blue box in the bathroom allows guests to place all their recyclables into one bin...we do the rest.
- Energy efficient bulbs are used inside and outside the hotel
- Our linens are washed using eco-friendly ozone generators
- Switched from a bromine to a salt pool system
- Timers limit energy consumption for our ice machines, video arcade, and non-essential lighting

- Motion sensors control lighting throughout the building
- Use 35 - 100% post-consumer recycled paper
- We compost biodegradable material which naturally enriches the soil in our flower gardens
- Implemented a linen reuse program

We applaud Earth Day and what it stands for...we just wished people and businesses celebrated it 365 days a year.

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