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What Hospitality Eco-Friendly Steps Are Being Taken
Diane Cudworth, ISHP - Benjamin-West



Compared to 1-2 years ago, manufacturers are making greater efforts to provide:

  • Sustainable Product
  • Recyclable Product, including products containing Post Consumer Recycled Content
  • Re-Use Plans for Manufacturing Materials
  • Reclamation Plans for Future Hotel Renovations
  • Information and Training About These Plans, for Specifiers and Purchasers
  • Products manufactured in facilities that purchase 100% renewable energy.


Especially in the past year, specifiers and purchasers are getting more involved in providing:

  • Proactive Discussions About Sustainable Products and Services (Specifiers, Purchasers, Hotel Owners) to include:
    • Consideration of product based on its sustainable features, not just durability, aesthetics, and price.
    • Discussions about what is feasible for the project.  What cost and time impacts, if any, will we have if we implement this sustainable item?
    • Considerations for LEED points.
    • Asking suppliers probing questions about their practices and products.  What is truly sustainable, and what is only partially sustainable?
    • Use of suppliers whose manufacturing is near the jobsite.  (Some US manufacturers have made the shift to manufacturing in the US again, instead of Asia.)



Many manufacturers can now offer:

  • Products which can be 100% recycled at the end of their lifespan. (Reclamation Programs)
  • Products and adhesives with low VOC emitting materials and which have been tested by a non-profit ANSI accredited certifier.
  • Products produced in waste negative mills and all waste water in the manufacturing process is recycled back into itself.

Compact Fluorescent Lamping in place of Incandescent:

  • Some offer long life than incandescent lamping, resulting in less people hours to change out lamping.
  • Long-term lower energy and labor costs.
  • Does not have the heat of an incandescent.


  • Higher unit cost (but with energy savings, lower long-term net costs)
  • Color is different.  A lighting professional can recommend the appropriate color selection for the best lighting effects.
  • Disposal is different.  To help keep the environment safe, proper disposal is essential.  There are recycling programs and disposal units which safely compact the used lamping.
  • Dimming: CF do not have the dimming range of incandescent and it can shorten the life of the lamping.  When dimmed, the CF can make noise.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)

  • It is becoming more cost-effective and is very versatile. 
  • Lamp life can be 50,000 hours (about five times as long as CF).
  • 100% dimmable.
  • Best when used for “spot” lighting; ambient light is not as achievable, but is improving.


  • Re-Use: Re-framing of existing art or mirrors
  • New frames can be made of wood, or of “eco-conscious” engineered woods such as Framerica’s BonanzaWood (made from post consumer wood waste and a binding material).


For US projects, overseas manufacturing has become less cost-effective than US manufacturer.  In parts of Asia, labor costs have increased.  Transportation and supply costs have also increased.
For some suppliers, remote production such as this has brought quality control issues.  Having production in their main facility greatly improves their ability to monitor quality.
Some US manufacturers offer east and west coast manufacturing facilities, reducing transportation costs and carbon footprints.
Soy-Based Foam: Manufacturers have found in hospitality applications, this foam’s current construction often does not last the 5-7 years required.  Plus, only about 15% of soy-based foam is actually soy.  The rest is made from oil-based chemicals.  Instead, consider recycled foam.
Eco-Friendly Materials:

  • SFI and FSC certified lumber (from US managed forests)
  • Water-Base Finishes (low or no VOC emissions)
  • Recycled Foam (from virgin scrap)
  • Recycled Post-Consumer Steel Parts (springs, clips, staples)
  • Recycled Poly Bags

Many thanks to the suppliers who contributed to this article’s content!

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