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How is Green Going?

September 2011

You've heard the buzzwords. Sustainability. Composting. Energy conservation. Carbon footprint reduction. And perhaps the most popular term in the “saving the environment” vocabulary — going green.

Efforts to “go green” have spread from the grassroots level — for example, a boy or girl planting a tree — all the way up to the federal government, including the Department of Defense (DoD).

Even with current budgetary constraints, the investment that DoD is making to go green has expanded immensely, as each of the services does its part to help the environment, while driving costs, and most importantly energy usage, down.

Renewable or alternative energy sources, green roof technology and solar power are just the tip of the iceberg in DoD's vigorous campaign for energy conservation and water and waste management.

In the lodging arena, the more common green initiatives currently in place include recycling, decreasing water usage, conserving energy and reducing waste. It seems that the more “green” technology advances, the more environment-friendly devices you can introduce in your facilities to promote green practices, while still ensuring a comfortable stay for your guests.

With DoD making the big push for a greener military, the energy-saving initiatives you could implement in your lodges, clubs, catering and conference centers and food and beverage facilities — if you haven't done so already — are too numerous to mention, but here are a few ideas.

Energy management systems control heat and air conditioning in guestrooms, preventing them from becoming too hot or too cold when they are unoccupied.

In addition, you could install lighting fixtures and fluorescent light bulbs to conserve energy. For example, the Shades of Green (ahem!) Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) on Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., recently underwent an extreme “green” makeover to conserve energy.

After examining the lights that stayed on 24 hours a day, Shades of Green officials installed daylight sensors in the parking garage. In addition, the AFRC converted to fluorescent and LED lights as a cost-cutting and environment-friendly move, and also decreased the number of types of light bulbs in the hotel significantly in order to get maximum life out of them.

Another green initiative the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) community has instituted pertains to the furniture in your facilities.

Whether purchasing environmentally sound furniture made with wood from sustainable forests, or refurbishing nicked or marred furniture to preserve it and make it look brand new, employing environment-friendly techniques will not only save money, but also reduce your carbon footprint.

For those of you who set up outdoor furniture for your MWR facility, providing your primary customers — servicemembers and their families — with benches made of recycled plastic demonstrates your commitment to a greener environment.

There is so much more you can do to promote green practices in your facility. In lodging, water usage can be reduced by installing water-saving showerheads or by having aerators on your sinks that decrease water usage without giving up water pressure.

Let's not forget the types of appliances you have in your facilities. Energy-efficient air conditioners, electric ranges, electric dryers, microwave ovens and other appliances, especially those that are Energy Star rated, will not only reduce energy costs, but also decrease air pollution.

Perhaps you are already implementing some of these environment-friendly ideas in your facilities. Anything you can do to preserve the environment will not only provide a better quality of life for your patrons now, but also for future generations.