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Conservation Corner

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4 Cedar Key lodgings commit to green certification

Four of Cedar Key’s lodging establishments, Seahorse Landing, Island Place, Park Place and Faraway Inn, made the time and investment to be certified by Florida’s DEP as a Green Lodging.  This voluntary initiative designates and recognizes lodging establishments that make a commitment to conservation and protection of Florida’s natural resources.  The program consists of environmental guidelines designed for the hospitality industry to evaluate its operations, set goals and take specific actions to improve environmental performance.
This new distinction gives the above establishments preference for government functions as was demonstrated this past August when the Faraway Inn was selected to host members of the Coast Guard and NOAA during their mission to release rescued and rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, green lodging establishments enjoy free posting on the Florida Green Lodging website and exclusive use of the Green Lodging logo and marketing tool kit.  As if that isn’t enough positive reinforcement, certified lodgings find that because they decrease their energy usage, they save money.
Lodging establishments conduct property assessments and then choose to implement a specified number of environmental practices in six areas of sustainable operations. The Energy Advisory Panel spoke with Janet Blackwell, owner/operator of Seahorse Landing, regarding Green Lodging certification and she welcomed the opportunity to share steps they took to complete their certification in “about” six weeks.
Communication and Education
Discuss green practices and environmental policy at staff meetings, making sure employees understand their roles.  Document meetings.
Make an environmental policy list that is available to the public.  We post ours on the side of the refrigerator in each unit.
Provide formal process for guests and staff to give feedback on green practices.
Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling
We use scrap paper to make pads for each unit
We place recycle baskets in each unit (order recycling stickers at www.wastestickers.com).  Guests and housekeeping dispose of the recyclables in designated containers next to our trash containers.
We take our used ink cartridges to Faraway Inn as they raise money from this recycling effort for the feline neuter/spay program in Cedar Key
We recycle fluorescent and high efficiency bulbs, both which contain mercury and are therefore considered hazardous wastes, at Cedar Key’s semi-annual hazardous waste collection
We use Windsoft toilet paper and paper towels as the DEP requires 30 percent post-consumer recycled content of at least one paper product including also office paper and napkins
Water Conservation
Offer towel and linen reuse program
Use low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets
Energy Efficiency
Water heaters are set at less than 120 degrees
Double spin laundry to reduce dryer time
Turn off ac units when guests check out
Use timers and photo sensors on outdoor lighting, signs and spa heater
Use a solar blanket on the hot tub to keep in heat and chlorine
We’re changing out all incandescent bulbs for high efficiency bulbs
Indoor Air Quality
Steam cleaned ac evaporators and blower fans (Call Willie from Island Air)
Now maintaining AC units with an inexpensive eco-friendly cleaner called Enviro Coil
Keep a log of AC cleaning and filter changes
Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies such as Greenworks by Clorox for general cleaning and Palmolive Eco for dishwashers.  These products cost the same or less than the products we were using.
Transportation
As Seahorse Key met certification requirements via high scores in other areas and therefore did not address this are by simply offering bicycles to guests this goal can be accomplished.
Green Lodging certification is valid for three years but environmental performance data (waste, water, energy) must be submitted annually.
The Energy Advisory Panel supports all Green Lodging establishments and looks forward to being of assistance to other Cedar Key lodgings that are ready to make the commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources.

Florida DEP contact for Green Lodging certification is www.dep.state.fl.us/greenlodging
Sheena Chin, Green Lodging Program District Coordinator, Florida DEP, Northeast District
Sheena.Chin@dep.state.fl.us   Phone:  904-807-3208 Fax:  904-448-4366

This column is a project of Cedar Key’s Energy Advisory Panel, which welcomes first-person accounts of how individuals are conserving (or, even, aspiring to conserve) our community's natural resources.   

Your submission may be made via email eileenlbowers@yahoo.com.  Please include your full name and your phone number.