State regulators have launched a program to help New Jersey hotel owners and operators increase energy efficiency and sustainability, allowing the businesses to achieve cost savings and other economic benefits.
Under the program, the Department of Environmental Protection will provide free environmental and energy reviews for 120 hotels in the state, according to an agency news release. The DEP also will host workshops and training sessions in the coming months for more than 300 hotels, although dates were not immediately announced.
The initiative is funded by an $180,000 contribution from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and a match by the DEP. The news release said the program, known as the Garden State Green Hotel Project, will not only focus on environmental upgrades, but also have “an emphasis on the economic benefits of implementing these practices.”
“The focus on sustainability is being driven by consumers, and it is important to business for the hospitality industry,” Faith Taylor, senior vice president of sustainability and innovation for Wyndham Worldwide, said in a prepared statement. She cited several studies that show that almost half of U.S. travels consider the environment when making travel choices.
At least one New Jersey developer is going to great lengths to build a “green” hotel. Hanini Group, based in Newark, is rehabilitating the 100-year-old First National State Bank building in the city and converting it to a 106-room boutique hotel.
When the building opens later this year, its features will include rooftop solar panels, plumbing systems to recycle sink and shower water and automated controls for lighting and curtains.
“Once you check in, the room would go active, the lights would go on and the curtains would open,” Samer Hanini, principal of the firm, said in a November interview. “On sunny days, if the room’s not occupied, the curtains would close to conserve heat.”
The firm said it hoped the hotel will reach platinum status on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating scale for building design.
The DEP program also includes planned job training for workers from 60 hotels at Atlantic Cape Community College, in Cape May County.