Though Americans constitute only 5 percent of the world’s population, they use 26 percent of its energy, according to the American Almanac.
The Landmark Inn is doing its part to help bring that number down by becoming more earth- friendly.
This is no small task, said Christine Pesola, hotel proprietor.
“It’s exciting trying this out,” she said. “It’s a big project.”
Darcia Mattson, marketing consultant and technical assistant for The Landmark, said while these changes will help the hotel save money, it is also the morally right thing to do.
“If we don’t do something who will?” she said.
Pesola began to turn the hotel into a more environmentally-friendly place as soon as she became the owner ten years ago.
The first changes occurred during the hotel’s renovation when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed in every room.
While using less water is always good when promoting an eco-friendly business, Pesola also looked elsewhere to see what other things she could change, and one option became clear: light bulbs.
Though light bulbs may seem an insignificant part of any building, they are a major contributor to its electric bill, Mattson said.
“The biggest thing is switching to the compact fluorescent lights,” she added. “They’re expensive.”
The cost of the energy-efficient light bulbs is one problem facing The Landmark. The fluorescents cost roughly $15 a piece, while incandescent light bulbs cost much less.
Changing the light bulbs reduced the amount of carbon emissions which come from hotel.
The U.S. Department of Energy stated that the United States is the world’s largest single emitter of carbon dioxide, accounting for 23 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient fluorescent bulb will conserve 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and can save roughly $67 dollars over the bulb’s lifetime. Compact fluorescent bulbs can last for several years.
The Landmark Inn’s electric bill is roughly $8,000 monthly, Pesola said.
“If I can reduce that, then I’m happy and I’m saving the environment,” she added.
While lowering the amount of electricity used by the hotel can help qualify it as a
“green” business, heating costs are also an issue.
According to Solar Energy International, residential appliances including heating and cooling equipment and water heaters consume 90 percent of all energy used in the U.S. residential sector.
New window shades will be installed to help prevent heat from escaping through the windows.
The current shades hang directly above the heaters in most rooms, allowing for extra room between the shade and the window. This extra room provides an easy escape route for warm air rising up from the heater.
The new shades will fit snugly into the window frame so as to reduce the possibility of warm air being released through the windows.
Other changes include new high-speed extraction washers, which reduce drying times for linen and towels.
While these new machines can help lower utility bills, as well as the hotel’s negative impact on the environment, new housekeeping policies are also being put into place.
Rather than having every towel in an occupied room be washed daily, the room’s users simply leave the towels they want to be washed on the bathroom floor. Towels left hanging on the racks will not be washed.
However, this new procedure isn’t always put to use.
There’s a constant training of the staff and a constant battle with educating guests,” Pesola said.
Another major change in the hotel’s rooms include using dispensers for soap and shampoo, instead of providing the small bottles that a patron would normally find in their room’s bathroom.
“I mean, come on. Billions of those little bottles are thrown out every year,” Pesola said.
Though many changes have already been made to The Landmark Inn, Pesola still has plenty more ideas for helping the hotel become more environmentally friendly.
Pesola did away with Styrofoam to-go boxes in The Northland Pub and Caper’s, the hotels’ two restaurants, after some members of Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, saw them being used.
They were absolutely appalled at the Styrofoam,” she said.
She also hopes to dispose of the linen napkins used in Caper’s, opting instead for recycled brown napkins. However, the chef is not thrilled with that idea, she added.
Pesola also reduced the amount of waste The Landmark produces by recycling as much as possible, saying that this is particularly helpful in her restaurants.
“Any restaurant is wasteful,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”
All of these changes have been occurring for the past two years, said Pesola, adding that it is a slow process.
About 6 rooms a year are completely switched over to environmentally friendly practices, Mattson said.
“The idea is to reduce the energy and to make smart decisions,” she added. “You don’t do this automatically overnight.”
Pesola projected to have the hotels renovations completed within the next two years.
“We need to have a policy with a consciousness of overall conserving,” Mattson said. “Our resources are not unlimited, not only financially but naturally.”
While all these changes are good for the environment, Pesola added that there’s a fine line between being a fancy, environmentally friendly, hotel and having the perception of being chintzy, saying that it’s an educational thing.
However, Pesola doesn’t believe that she will loose customers because of the hotel’s environmentally friendly practices.
“If you’re going to [go green], you’ve got to do it all the way,” she said.