Bethany’s Holiday Inn Express goes green

The Holiday Inn Express in Bethany Beach, along with the one in Rehoboth Beach and the Atlantis Inn in Rehoboth Beach – all owned by Atlantic Management – have been recognized as Delaware Green Lodging Hotels by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

General Manager John Neff said they kicked off their initiative in Bethany in August but got really serious about it a month ago.

“After a lot of research and planning, we did a complete energy audit of all five of our hotels — three of which are now certified.”

He said the audits analyzed how much energy and water they currently use and offered tips on how to conserve both. In addition to conservation, they have a commercial single-stream recycling bin on site and are implementing a pilot program that will put single-stream recycling bins in each of their 100 guest rooms.

“Since most of the waste is generated by guests, we are asking the guests to join us in this initiative,” said Neff. “It’s really neat. I’m not sure of other hotels that have taken that extra step.”

He said they plan on seeing how the program goes this summer, when they are at 100 percent occupancy, before they make a decision to roll it out to all of their hotels.

In addition to the recycling efforts, they plan on investing in compact-fluorescent lightbulbs. They already use compact fluorescent lighting in the hallways and general areas, and switching to using them everywhere, including the guest rooms, is a move that will not only conserve energy but will save them more than $6,000 per year on the hotel’s electric bill.

But recycling and lights are only the tip of the iceberg. Neff, as the hotel’s “green champion,” said he is as much excited about what will be happening outside the hotel as he is about the changes on the inside.

“One of the coolest things is we have is a ‘smart irrigation system,’” said Neff.

The irrigation systems can be programmed by zone and by plant and soil type, so plants are only watered as needed and watered only by their individual needs. It can also be programmed according to the weather, so on rainy days, it will not come on automatically.

“The biggest savings there is with runoff,” noted Neff.

They have also implemented a new laundry detergent that is phosphate and bleach-free and are working on greening all of their cleaning supplies. Because of the lack of phosphate, the laundry does not need the extra rinse cycle. Therefore, it helps save water and wear and tear on the washers.

They encourage towel re-use for all guests, and for guests staying over more than one night, they change the linens on the third day, as part of Project Planet. (Guests that prefer fresh towels and linens daily can opt out of the green service by leaving the Project Planet Card on their pillow).

Besides those steps, Neff is currently pricing cups that are not plastic or Styrofoam for the hotel’s breakfast area and is trying to find an acceptable balance of cleaning products that are both cost effective and satisfactory as disinfectants.

In addition to the research on different types of cups for the breakfast area, during the summer season they will be participating in “buy fresh, buy local campaigns” as much as possible. Neff is also trying to actively recruit “green events” and companies to use the hotel’s meeting room, to satisfy the “green events package” part of certification.

Neff is hopeful that the green lodging program will catch on, despite some of the financial challenges of trying to do what he says is the right thing.

“I am hoping that as it continues to grow, we can all leverage each other and eventually form a co-op, because price sometimes holds businesses back,” he acknowledged. “The idea that ‘green’ is actually pro-business hasn’t quote caught on yet. But energy efficiency is eventually going to be a resource, not a luxury. And there is value in doing the right thing.”

The Delaware Green Lodging Program is voluntary and self-certifying, and it encourages hotels, resorts and other hospitality entities to understand their environmental impact and implement pollution prevention practices.

In addition to the three Atlantic Management hotels, of which Holiday Inn Express in Bethany is a part, three other Delaware hotels have been recognized: the Embassy Suites in Newark, the Awaken Inn in Millsboro and The Biden Environmental Training Center in Lewes. To qualify, the hotels implemented five basic green lodging practices: recycling, water conservation, optional linen service, energy conservation and a “green events package.”

For more information on the Green Lodging or other pollution prevention programs, contact Crystal Nagyiski at (302) 739-9909. For more information on the Holiday Inn Express in Bethany Beach, visit online or call (302) 541-9200.