Twenty Arizona hotels have earned a "green" designation from the state under a program rolled out in early January that awards points for meeting environmental criteria. Created by the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association and two state agencies, the Office of Tourism and the Department of Environmental Quality, the Green Hotel program considers various eco-friendly categories — areas such as kitchen, housekeeping and energy — to rate hotels that submit applications.

For example, in the kitchen, a hotel can be rewarded for use of local foods, relationships with food-related charities and establishing a composting system. In housekeeping, points are awarded for use of environmentally friendly cleaning products. Under energy, hotels can score points based on the use of solar energy and high-efficiency appliances.

According to reports from azcentral.com, to make the program tangible and easy to measure, checklists offer more than 100 steps in 15 categories that properties can take to earn points, with 150 points qualifying for green certification.

Certification is good for two years, and to remain certified, properties must increase their efforts.

Benjamin Grumbles, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said the Green Hotel program represented a comprehensive commitment to saving energy and water.

"This is above and beyond what is required by law or government," he said. "We get real progress when people and businesses do more than they are required to do."

Still, the program has shortcomings. It does not address transportation to and from properties, it appears to offer more opportunities for larger hotels to score well and it is self-scored. Independent checks of properties are expected as the program develops.

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