Taking your green lifestyle on the road with you when you travel can be easier than you think, despite what people may tell you. Still, it’s just as important to maintain a green lifestyle while traveling as it is to at home. Every choice you make while on an out of town adventure has an impact on the environment: from hitting a fast food joint for lunch instead of getting something fresh and healthy (even just this one time) to slurping down an extra bottle of water on a plane when you know for a fact they don’t recycle the plastic, it can be challenging to constantly choose the road less traveled…and more green.
Fortunately, more and more businesses are getting their green acts together, which makes eco-friendly travel considerably easier. In particular, certain hotels are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints, as well as your own, when you book a stay in their rooms. For the most part, these hotels have two things in common:
- Green Seal Certification – This is something that can be very expensive, and very difficult for certain businesses to attain. For a hotel to be certified, it has to pass an extensive 24-point inspection, proving that everything from the tissue paper found in the bathrooms to the air conditioners in the rooms is energy efficient and eco-friendly.
- LEED Certification – The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides a set of rigorous guidelines for the construction of new and environmentally sustainable buildings. LEED buildings are awarded certification based on six categories: water efficiency, sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, inside environmental quality and innovation and design process.
Just about every hotel that is serious about the environment will go through the trouble of getting Green Seal and/or LEED Certified. In staying at one of these places, the benefit is twofold: you’ll get the satisfaction of traveling green and you’ll reap the benefits of organic bath products and fluorescent lighting, as well as quirky perks like free hybrid parking and bike rentals. With more and more hotels becoming certified, the hardest choice isn’t how to travel green, but with which company to do so. Ah, the liberating feeling of having options. Here are three of the best to visit:
Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole, WY – This four-star hotel boasts some of the coolest green features around, including radiant-heated flooring in the parking garage, which helps to retain building heat and cut energy consumption. The mattresses, sheets and towels are all made out of 100 percent organic cotton, the lobby features giant pillars of reclaimed wood and the hotel restaurant even participates in food composting. Rates start at $119/night.
Avalon Hotel and Spa in Portland, OR – The first hotel to be LEED Certified in Oregon, the Avalon Hotel is located in one of the up-and-coming neighborhoods of the picturesque city of Portland. The property is nestled next to Cottonwood Bay, an 8,000 square foot protected green space that is a natural sanctuary for local butterflies. Additionally, the site is landscaped with drought-tolerant plants that have reduced the need for irrigation by 95 percent. Rates start at $149/night.
The New York Westin in NYC – Not only is this the first NYC hotel to be Green Seal Certified, but it’s also the first location in the Westin family to achieve the award. Guest amenities include paperless guest registration, low-flow faucets and 100 percent recycled and biodegradable room keys. Behind the scenes, all of the grease found in the kitchen gets recycled and used by a local company to produce biofuels, which helps others travel just as green as you do. Rates start at $275/night.