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Posted March 22, 2017

sustainable travel


Travel brands, listen to travelers: they want more access to sustainable travel choices. And travelers who make more eco-friendly travel choices have been shown to provide more value to the travel suppliers who serve them.

Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research partnered for the 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism survey, which revealed that 60% of US travelers have taken a “sustainable” trip in the last three years. They found that these travelers spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering. (For more, read Making a Difference on a Volunteer Vacation.)

What does it take to get a piece of this lucrative market? It takes establishing an organizational commitment to serving the environment and investing in the operational changes to start making a difference. Let’s look at how a few industry players have already joined the movement toward greener travels for all.

Airports and Airlines “Go Green”
As we explored in The Travel Sector’s Widening Carbon Footprint Calls for Sustainable Solutions (Need URL), air travel is a major source of environmental concern. This puts airports and airlines under increased scrutiny, as many travelers want to at least minimize the environmental harm caused by their behaviors and make appropriate choices. So let’s take a look at what air sector companies are doing to promote more eco-friendly travels:

  • Boston’s Logan Airport – Aside from offering Clean Air Cabs, Clean Vehicle Preferred Parking program and a LEED-certified airport terminal, the airport features wind turbines and solar panels. According to the airport’s 2016 Annual Sustainability Report, the electricity produced from these renewable energy sources is enough to power nearly 125 typical Massachusetts homes for one year.
  • Switzerland’s Zurich Airport – This airport uses a noise mapping and measurement program and even charges fees for certain types of aircraft noise. They also use rain water for flushing toilets and employ an electronic billing system for recycling and waste materials. And work is underway to maintain the airport’s dedicated green spaces and to protect birds living in the area. Read more about their many efforts in their most recent environmental report.

Visit to learn about other environmentally friendly airports.

  • Airbus – The airline’s 2050 Vision for “Smarter Skies” consists of 5 concepts that they say could be implemented across all stages of an aircraft’s operation to reduce waste in the system. These include continuous eco-climb takeoffs, express skyways for in-flight motion, low-noise free-glide approaches and landings, low emission ground operations, and the use of sustainable aviation fuels and alternative energy sources.

TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Set the Green Hotel Standard
Consumers who want to make more environmentally friendly travel choices can look no further than TripAdvisor. The travel site’s GreenLeaders program showcases hotel and B&Bs committed to green practices like recycling, local and organic food, and electric car charging stations. Properties can apply for qualification and when accepted, their TripAdvisor profiles are marked with a badge and program level designation. Platinum Level hotels, for example, are LEED Certified and feature non-toxic pest control, local plants in garden, landscaping designed to minimize flooding, energy-efficient lightbulbs, a staff trained on green practices, and more.

In addition, here are other eco-friendly practices travelers might find at eco-friendly hotels:

  • Tracks and measures use of energy, water, and carbon emissions
  • Equips guest rooms with ENERGY STAR appliances
  • Sets heat and A/C temperatures to save energy or uses sensors to automatically adjust the temperature when room is occupied
  • Offers a towel and linen reuse program
  • Uses water-efficient faucets and toilets
  • Recycles waste (e.g. paper, glass, plastic) and composts food waste
  • Safely disposes of hazardous materials
  • Uses recycled paper products across facility (e.g. facial tissue, paper towels, toilet paper, toiletry packaging, office paper)
  • Practices low chemical gardening and uses local plants in landscaping
  • Installs cool roofing and uses low VOC paints
  • Has a preventative maintenance plan in effect
  • Educates guests on green practices

You’ll find some of these features as you Tour the Hotel of the Future. But for now, taking the top 3 spots in’s list of the most eco-friendly hotel chains are:

  • Starwood Hotels – they’ve achieved 11.5% reduction in energy use, 14.8% reduction in water use, and an 11.6% reduction in carbon emissions in their hotels across the board.
  • Hilton Hotels – they’ve reduced water consumption by 10% and reduced waste production by 20%, and up to 94% of their energy is now green.
  • Fairmont Hotels – all of their properties have been LEED certified and they employ innovative concepts like heat recycling and green roofs.

Karen Galles

Karen Galles recognizes that each client has unique needs. Tapping into her travel industry experience, Karen is someone who loves to investigate, collaborate and find creative solutions to achieve success. Karen previously worked for companies including roomlia, Expedia and Certified Vacations. She graduated from Niagara University and holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Tourism and French.