Sustainable Solutions for Green Hotels

This page lists sustainable practices that hotels can implement. If you would like to encourage hotels you stay at to implement these ideas, consider printing this information and dropping it off at the front desk or mailing it in with the hotel’s comment card.

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  1. Start a linen (both towels and sheets) reuse program in all guest rooms.
  2. Install low-flow showerheads and sink aerators.
  3. Switch to low-flow toilets or install toilet-tank fill diverters. To learn more about water-saving toilets go to product demo, click on ‘Multiflush’.
  4. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs in guestrooms, lobbies, and hallways. Use sensors and/or timers for areas that are infrequently used.
  5. Whenever possible, buy food and guest amenities in bulk (i.e., use refillable hair and skin care dispensers).
  6. Educate your staff to turn off lights and turn down heating/air conditioning when rooms are unoccupied. Also, during summer months, to close the drapes.
  7. Install window film to lower heating and cooling loads and reduce glare in guestrooms.
  8. Provide guestroom recycler baskets for newspaper, white paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard, and plastic.
  9. Provide recycling bins both in public areas (i.e., poolside), in the kitchen, and in the back office (including one at each desk) to make recycling as easy as possible.
  10. Buy office and guest amenity products that contain recycled material.
  11. Buy organic, fair trade, cruelty-free guest amenity products whenever possible:
    • bedding
    • hair and body care
    • coffee and tea
    • etc.
  12. Use recycled paper products (with high post-consumer recycled content) that are either unbleached or bleached using a chlorine-free process. Minimize the amount of paper used for each guest (i.e., reduce paper size of invoices, etc.). Print with soy-based inks.
  13. Use nontoxic or least toxic cleaners, sanitizers, paints, pesticides, etc. throughout the hotel. Make sure all chemicals are stored safely in a well-ventilated area.
  14. Purchase “Energy Star” appliances wherever possible.  Replace old washing machines with both water and energy conserving models.
  15. If the hotel has a pool and/or hot tub, install a solar water heating system and use pool and hot tub covers when the pool area is closed.
  16. Provide your guests with bicycles, walking maps, and information on public transportation.
  17. Provide reusable items such as cloth napkins, glass cups, ceramic dishes, etc. with all food and beverage services.
  18. Provide glass cups and ceramic mugs (instead of plastic) for in-room beverages. Place cups and mugs upside down on paper doilies (instead of covering opening with a plastic wrapping).
  19. Use daylight exclusively in your lobby, bar, and restaurant for as much of the day as possible. Consider installing skylights if needed.
  20. Donate leftover food to a local nonprofit organization and/or use a compost bin.
  21. If your hotel has a restaurant, consider transitioning it into a Certified Green Restaurant ( or Certified Green Commercial Kitchen ( Buy organic, locally-grown food and/or plant an organic garden to provide fresh produce for your guests.
  22. Switch to drought resistant native plants in garden areas. Replace mowed landscaping with native ground cover.
  23. Replace exit signs with Light Emitting Diode (LED) exit signs.
  24. Include filter changes, coil cleaning, thermostat calibration, and damper adjustments in your ongoing maintenance plan.
  25. Monitor, record and post rates of energy and water use. Make repairs or replace equipment when rate changes indicate problems.
  26. Use an energy management system (EMS) to tie in air handling units, HVAC, and lighting to prevent conditioning space when it is not necessary.
  27. Create an incentive program to encourage your staff to participate in and improve upon environmentally-friendly practices.
  28. Use proper insulation and reflective roof coverings.
  29. When doing construction or remodeling projects, contact the U.S. Green Building Council ( (or the Green Building Council if you are in South Africa) to learn about the nationally accepted standards for green buildings (called LEED). Buy previously used or recycled-content products whenever possible.
  30. Consult outside sources to evaluate the total system when replacing major mechanical equipment (such as chiller, water tower, etc). Often, this can lead to downsizing and other opportunities to reduce both the initial investment and operating costs.
  31. Replace electric package terminal air conditioner (PTAC) units with more efficient heat pumps or other geothermal technologies.
  32. Donate leftover guest amenities, old furniture and appliances to charities.
  33. If available, schedule an energy audit through your local energy provider.
  34. If your hotel has a gift shop, consider purchasing fair trade products.
  35. Offer discounted rates to sustainable living/environmental organizations who would like stay at and/or hold meetings at your hotel.

Source: Excerpts from Global Stewards

eco lodges south africa

Private eco lodge in the South African Lowveld

Eco-estates, eco-friendly hotels and green lodges are gaining popularity in Mpumalanga and Limpopo (see First Eco-Friendly Hotel in Mpumalanga).  People are becoming more aware of how to travel green and are demanding environmentally friendly travel destinations.  Water conservation in hotels is a particularly important aspect that many potential guests will ask about before checking-in (especially in water scarce South Africa).  Rainwater harvesting systems (rain water stor ed in water tanks) and grey water recycling systems can reduce a lodge’s water use drastically.   Sustainable restaurants use water saving systems wherever possible.  Renewable energy in the form of solar electric generation (photovoltaic solar panels) and solar water heating (solar geysers) is the best solution for many lodges in South Africa, especially those that are located off the beaten track such as in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo Lowveld (many of these game lodges strive to be ‘off-grid’).  Water Rhapsody and Yes Solar combine to provide environmentally sound water conservation systems and solar water heating solutions.  Contact us for a free quote on how to turn your hotel or lodge into a green(er) destination.

All our systems can be adapted to small households or large hotels and office blocks.

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