In Europe, many hotel room keys double as the master switch, turning power to the room on and off. The New York Times writes that it’s almost never seen in the U.S. and wonders if Americans are ready for greener hotel rooms.
Brian McGuinness, a vice president of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, told the paper that people say they want to be green, but they don’t want to compromise. Starwood began a new green brand last month called Element, which is branded as being eco-conscious but so far the hotels do not have master switches in the rooms.
McGuinness said when they surveyed potential customers about master switches some responded that “they would suffer discomfort,” because the room would be too hot when they returned.
But he added that future Element hotels may install compromise master switches, which controls the lights and the TV, while leaving the air-conditioning on. Experts estimate that the price for installation is about $300 per room, or less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the cost of construction.
Another common device in European hotels, the dual-flush toilet, which uses different amounts of water for liquid and solid waste, is also rare in American hotels. McGuinness said that consumers also expressed concern that the dual-flush toilets would not work.
In early 2007, the Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio replaced more than 400 toilets in the hotel with dual-flush models. The hotel says the hotel’s water use has dropped about a million gallons a month since the change and attributes about 60 percent of that savings to the toilets. Experts estimate that the price for the dual-flush models is about $80 per room.
Customers represents part of the challenge for hotels to become green. But there are plenty more, as is revealed in the Green Assessment Survey released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association earlier this year.
The Savoy recently announced that it is closing for 16 months in order in hopes of becoming the most environmentally responsible hotel in London. The hotel is working with Evolve Energy on its $200 million restoration project.
A recent report from Deloitte found that 34 percent of business travelers seek out green lodging.
Hilton Hotels recently announced sustainability targets it aims to reach by 2014.