Park Place garners Green Lodging designation

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By Warren Parkin

Cedar Key’s green movement passed another milestone last Friday with the largest business to date receiving the Green Lodging Program designation from the Florida Department of Environment Protection. Park Place Condominiums, managed by Linda LeRoy, became the third local business to receive the certification. The state made it official through email Sept. 4.

Linda decided to take the business green and obtain the certification to help preserve island beauty. “Business here is so eco-based in Cedar Key. It’s a wonderful place to be. If you want people to come here because it’s a nice place, you have an obligation to keep it nice.”

To qualify for the green designation, lodging businesses must provide recycling bins in each unit, install low flow water devices on all showers and faucets, use green cleaning products and post informational signs outlining green conduct to educate visitors regarding environmentally friendly practices as well as provide an avenue for guest feedback to continually make green improvements.

Built in the early 80s, Park Place Condominiums is also certified as a Natural Wildlife Habitat. The three story 36 unit structure stands across from City Park overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Thirty-three of the units are available to rent, 10 of which are handicapped accessible, Linda said.

The state of Florida gives preference to green lodging when available. In 2007 Governor Charlie Crist signed three executive orders initiating state energy-use policies, including one that requires state agencies and departments to hold meetings and conferences only at hotels with the Florida Green Lodging designation when possible.

Going green makes business sense because more and more people are demanding that the businesses they patronize embrace green principles, Linda said. “The guests really like to see that we are conserving. It’s almost expected that we recycle. Most people are either from an area they have to recycle or they recycle themselves. They look for recycling when they decide where to stay.”

Recycling at Park Place Condominiums has dramatically reduced the amount of garbage thrown away. “It has been a big difference in the amount of garbage we put out. I was amazed.” Linda estimates that garbage has been reduced by 20 percent, approximately 150 pounds of refuse per week. She credits the city with making recycling possible. “The business recycling trailer has been great. They keep it open so you can just walk on in. It’s been really handy. It’s amazing how fast it fills up.”

Besides recycling, Park Place also makes its own cleaning products and laundry detergent from basic items such as baking soda, Borax, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. “We want to get away from chlorine. It’s not any more expensive than buying the regular cleaners and they work as well and smell clean, instead of like scented chemicals,” Linda said.

Obtaining the green certification can seem daunting at first, Linda said. “The state is really willing to help you and guide you along the way. It looks like a lot of work, and there is a process you have to go through but the changes that you make will benefit you.” If other lodging businesses want to pursue the certification she says that she will be glad to help because others have helped her.

“It was very motivating to me to see that other places were doing it. They’d gone through it successfully and were really willing to help,” Linda said. “Everyone has been so helpful.”

Seahorse Landing Condominium Rentals and Faraway Inn received Green Lodging Certification earlier this year.

Linda relied on help from Janet Blackwell and Faraway Inn’s Doreen Bauer. “Janet Blackwell from Seahorse put out some really good information,” she said. “Sheena Chin from DEP met with me. She gave me a lot of helpful information.” Besides contacting the businesses that are already certified, Linda recommends the DEP website www.dep.state.fl.us/greenlodging/. “It is easy to navigate and helpful,” Linda said.