As summer nears and travel increases, people will be looking to stay in a hotel that is taking step to be greener. But how can you tell? According to one travel expert, on one of his travels he found the only thing green about the "green" hotel he had selected was that "they gave to a local green charity."
Jennifer Meek, the director of marketing for Enviro-Solutions, says just by asking a few questions or doing a little probing, customers can find out if a hotel is truly green or just doing a little "greenwashing."
Among the questions to ask or items to look for are the following:
• Is the hotel a member of the Green Hotel Association? These members put a much higher emphasis on being environmentally preferable.
• Does the hotel keep recycling bins in rooms and public areas?
• If it is a nonsmoking hotel?
• Are linens fragrance-free? (scent-free detergents help prevent allergic reactions)
• Have low-energy light bulbs replaced conventional bulbs?
• Are green cleaning chemicals being used? "Transferring to certified green cleaning chemicals is one of the principal and easiest steps hotels can take to become more environmentally friendly," says Meek.
• Does the hotel use alternative, renewable energy sources?
• Is food served by the hotel grown organically and harvested locally?
• Are steps in place to reduce water consumption?

"One of the surest ways to determine if a hotel is green is to ask if it has been LEED-certified," adds Meek. "Then you know they have met very stringent standards that essentially certify they are truly green."