Members of the Hospitality Industry can participate in Tennessee Green Hospitality, a Green Certification program initiated by the Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association and now available throughout Tennessee via the Tennessee Hospitality Association. The program works with lodging facilities, restaurants, attractions and convention centers to assist them in making their operations more sustainable, and to certify achievement to standards.
To document and quantify sustainable practices, participants apply for Certification to Tennessee Green Hospitality. Certification requires specific adherence to CORE standards based on the reductions outlined below plus a written plan for ongoing environmental improvement. (see applications in the "Media" section). Applications are audited by an independent third party.
Consultation is provided to participating businesses in areas of energy, waste and water reduction, in-house and public recycling, and other specific activities to improve the environmental impact in all areas of their operations.
Skye Con, an environmental consulting company based in Chattanooga, administers the program and provides the independent third party auditing for the program.
While the program was conceived of and developed by the hospitality industry, local and state government agencies provided strong encouragement and advice.
What the Result Will Be
This program is improving the environmental footprint of the hospitality industry, is making the Tennessee River Valley area a more attractive destination for travelers interested in sustainable practices, and is reducing operating costs for participating facilities.
Through the process of applying for certification and making operational improvements to be compliant, participating facilities experience a tangible and significant reduction in their environmental footprint.
Multiple studies show that a majority of tourists, meeting planners, and other potential customers give preference to operations with specific programs for sustainability in place. An increasing number are asking for certification of claims. This program has become well recognized. There has been multiple press coverage, all positive. In 2010 it was the winner of a Governor's Award for sustainability. Participating hotels are recognized by AAA"s ECO logo. Several Tennessee State Parks, Conference Centers and Restaurants have become certified.
Because these sustainable improvements result from reductions in energy, water, waste and materials used, participants also experience a reduction in operating costs.
The original intent of the program was to make Chattanooga a more attractive destination city for potential guests for whom sustainability is an important factor in deciding where to spend their travel dollars.
Participation in the program throughout the state is now providing that same benefit for the whole state.
In summary, the program leads to considerable environmental improvement, a reduction in operating costs for participating operations, and is making the State of Tennessee, and specifically the East Tennessee River Valley a more attractive destination area.