ENERGY STAR Hotels for Work, Play, and the Holidays

By Andrea Schnitzer

The cool fall weather signals the beginning of the winter holiday and vacation travel season, and this may include a hotel stay for you or your family and friends. This year my family is converging in Washington, DC to visit and sight see, after which I’ll be escaping the city for some vacation time of my own. Both are opportunities for us to take advantage of ENERGY STAR certified hotels.

While Washington, DC provides plenty of hotel choices, I’ve asked my family to choose from among the many hotels in the city that have been ENERGY STAR certified. On average, ENERGY STAR certified buildings use 35% less energy than average buildings. While many hotels are actively tracking their energy use with ENERGY STAR’s free online tools and resources, only those hotels performing in the top 25% of hotels nationwide are awarded the ENERGY STAR. What this means for you is a more comfortable hotel stay since you’re less likely to be fighting with heating and cooling controls. Additionally, hotels that are ENERGY STAR certified have frequently adopted other green practices that help reduce their overall environmental impact. Staying in an ENERGY STAR certified hotel benefits both you, in terms of comfort, and the environment, in terms of lowered greenhouse emissions.

Over the past several years, vacation-worthy cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Austin and Washington, DC, have taken bold steps to protect the environment and lower energy costs by adopting policies that require commercial buildings, like hotels, to use EPA’s ENERGY STAR tools. Other cities have adopted voluntary initiatives and run exciting competitions to encourage energy efficiency by levering ENERGY STAR tools. Outstanding examples of these initiatives include the “Kilowatt Crackdown!” in Louisville, Kentucky, and the “Watts to Water” competition in Denver, Colorado. As hotel owners and operators track their energy use and improve their energy efficiency in these and other cities, there will be a resulting uptick in the number of certified building in these cities.

So, when you start making your travel plans, for work, play, or the holidays, take a look through the ENERGY STAR certified building registry to learn if there are certified hotels where you’re headed. In addition, you can search for ENERGY STAR hotels using Orbitz, Travelocity, and AAA services. The last time I checked, there were 445 ENERGY STAR certified hotels in 39 states plus the District of Columbia, so odds are good that you’ll find one at your destination. ENERGY STAR certified hotels also span a variety of amenity categories, from economy hotels for your business trips to luxury accommodations for your long-awaited vacation, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs. Happy holidays, and happy traveling!

Author the author: Andrea Schnitzer is a National Program Manager for the ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings branch and manages work related to the hospitality and entertainment building sectors. She tries to stay in ENERGY STAR certified hotels when traveling, and makes a point to encourage her family and friends to do the same!

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.