'

Beyond bedbugs: Lay your head to rest in the greenest hotel

Marriott is the best host when it comes to energy efficiency, water consumption and other environmental factors, according to a Climate Counts sustainability ranking.

I don't usually think about the green profile of the hotels that I book because, truth be told, I usually have to stay in a specific one because of a conference I am attending. But a recent press release about renewable energy use by the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel got me wondering about this.

Turns out that the 685-room property has just committed to buying enough renewable energy certificates for wind energy projects that it is now supported by 100 percent wind energy. Through the hotel's relationship with Sterling Planet, which is in the business of helping businesses figure out carbon offsets appropriate for their unique needs, it is now buying more than 6.3 million kilowatt-hours of Green-e Energy certified renewable energy certificates. That is the annual electricity consumption of approximately 500 U.S. households.

That is just one hotel, of course, and it turns out that Marriott is the hotel company most attuned to the environment, at least according to Climate Counts, an organization that keeps tabs on how businesses from different sectors are acting with respect to the environment and sourcing sustainably. Marriott earned a score of 62 out of 100, according to the Climate Counts listing. That compares with the score of 38 earned by the next closest company on the ranking, Starwood. Climate Counts looks at how companies measure, reduce and disclose their carbon emissions and other environmental footprint information.

To get a sense of what Marriott is doing that is so impressive, I took a peek at its first official Sustainability Report pulled together according to the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines, which was published in early October. Here are some highlights of its progress:

  • Energy consumption reduction of 11 percent since 2007, on target to reach its goal for 25 percent energy and water consumption by 2017
  • Reduction in water consumption per available room by 8.2 percent
  • Increased the number of properties certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program to 67 from 18; the company has more than 275 buildings certified under the Energy Star program, which is more than any other hotel company (Marriott operates more than 2,800 properties and resorts worldwide)

There are many more details in the Marriott report, including information about its program to donate $2 million for a rainforest preservation program in Brazil. You've got to believe that water usage is hands-down is one of the most critical sustainability issues for any hotel company to tackle, along with the inherent inefficiency of having personalized climate control in every hotel room. I'll bet as people get more serious about greening their own homes, that environmental factors will become a more important hospitality selection criteria -- after bed bug reports and ratings.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com