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Communication and Education Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Water Conservation Energy Efficiency Indoor Air Quality Transportation

Communication and Education

Two of the most important parts of any environmental plan are the Communication and Education components. The communication component clearly relays to guests, employees, vendors, suppliers and contractors the facility’s commitment to environmental protection. However, as important as the communication of environmental practices and achievements is, the only way to enact sustainable change is to provide some level of education to these groups.

Any environmental plan that is devoid of either of these components is bound for failure. The following Best Management Practices (BMPs) will assist the facility in successfully transferring information about environmental activities and will assist in promoting sustainable business practices.

Communication BMPs

Clearly communicate environmental initiatives.
The facility’s environmental initiatives and achievements should be communicated to as large an audience as possible. Guests and employees are the primary targets of any communication but it is important not to overlook suppliers, vendors and contractors in your communication programs.

The following are examples of possible media to use in communicating initiatives and achievements:

  • Place placards in guest rooms detailing towel and linen reuse programs.
  • Post guidelines for recycling in guest rooms, vending areas, back of house and near/on any recycling and trash receptacles.
  • Broadcast short informational video showing the facility’s environmental initiatives on in-room television services.
  • Show environmental policies to each supplier and contractor upon their entering the facility.
  • Post waste generation, water usage and utility consumption data in employee areas.
  • Include information about environmental initiatives in marketing and advertising materials.
  • Place posters highlighting individual employee’s environmental efforts and achievements.
  • Include environmental initiatives and/or a green tip in employee newsletters.

Establish an environmental taskforce or “Green Team” to discuss, plan and execute environmental initiatives.
The “Green Team” should include representatives from all operational areas. It is important to include all levels of employees, including management representatives. To achieve buy-in throughout the facility, consider appointing a team leader that is not on the facility’s overall management team. The “Green Team” should meet at least quarterly to review any environmental concerns, plan upcoming outreach events and discuss ideas to improve environmental performance.

Regularly discuss environmental practices at staff events and meetings.
Communicate environmental initiatives at staff meetings and events. At least one environmental topic should be presented at each meeting. Invite outside speakers to address employee groups about smart environmental practices they can do at home and work.

Offer tours highlighting the facility’s environmental initiatives and achievements to guests and the public.
Public perception is often a large measure of the success or failure of any environmental initiative. Offer tours of the facility highlighting successful environmental projects. Tours can be offered as part of other local, eco-tourism options that are advertised by the facility.

Advertise and offer information on local eco-tourism options.
In Florida, hotel guests often plan to spend a large amount of time outdoors during their visit. Provide guests with alternatives to the traditional planned excursions. Popular ideas include guided kayaking, fishing and sailing trips, informational nature tours and visits to state and local parks and recreation areas.

Provide a means for guests and employees to evaluate the facility’s environmental practices.
Allow guests and employees to evaluate the facility’s environmental performance. Possible evaluation tools include on-line evaluations, suggestions boxes or surveys. Review suggestions and evaluations to learn how the facility is perceived and to highlight possible environmental projects.

Publicly communicate environmental initiatives through advertising materials and Web resources.
Consistently update the public on current environmental initiatives and past successes through advertising materials and Web resources. Publicize important environmental policies and expectations through these same approaches.

Constantly review all environmental policies, initiatives and actions for consistency and timeliness.
Environmental policies need to be continually updated to reflect current practices and the most current information available.

Education BMPs

Provide training to all levels of facility staff on environmental policies, procedures and initiatives.
Timely and pertinent training must be considered a vital part of any environmental improvement program. Ensure that EVERY employee understands the facility’s environmental policies and their role in implementing and following these policies. Webinar-based training will be provided on a regular basis by the Florida Green Lodging Program. Further training can be obtained from suppliers, vendors, local utility providers, water management districts and various other environmental specialists.

Ensure that training on environmental policies and procedures is provided in languages according to staff needs.
The workforce in the lodging industry is an ethnically diverse population. Where possible, training should be provided in the audience’s language of first choice to facilitate clearer understanding and easier adaptation of environmental policies and initiatives. Printed training materials should be translated to the most common non-English native language of the facility. Spoken training should be given in the listener’s native language, where possible.

Serve as a Florida Green Lodging Program mentor to another property.
Peer-to-peer training and education is invaluable. New environmental practices and policies are adopted faster if they have an industry champion. By serving as a Florida Green Lodging mentor to another facility, you can increase the level of positive environmental impact at a local level.

Host community and/or guest educational programs that highlight the facility’s environmental initiatives and success stories.
Provide educational programs to guests and the community on smart environmental practices. Use the facility as tool to show successfully implemented environmental practices. Event ideas include Earth Day celebrations, hosting an environmentally-themed public conference or a Green Fair.

Industry Information

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Last updated: October 14, 2009

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Green Lodging Program, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, M.S. 30, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-2100 (phone) / 850-245-2159 (fax)  
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