Green stories and incentives for hoteliers

TORONTO — Hoteliers who follow eco-friendly practices need to tell their green stories, a panel concluded at Live Green Toronto’s Green Learning Series, held April 15 at Toronto City Hall.

From left: Steve Ball, Green Key Global; Mark Singh, Live Green Toronto; Tracy Ford, Chelsea Toronto Hotel.

From left: Steve Ball, Green Key Global; Mark Singh, Live Green Toronto; Tracy Ford, Chelsea Toronto Hotel.

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TORONTO — Hoteliers who follow eco-friendly practices would be wise to take advantage of available energy rebates and incentives, and need to tell their green story to the wider community, concluded two panels convened at Live Green Toronto’s Green Learning Series – Toronto Hotel Edition, held April 15 at Toronto City Hall.

Ammar Al-Taher, a consultant with Toronto Hydro, pointed out that electricity incentives are based on fees that hoteliers have paid in advance, as part of their regular hydro operating costs, so it only makes good business sense to recoup some of that money.

At Toronto Hydro, for instance, incentives include the Ontario small business lighting program, which offers a free assessment to identify potential energy savings, and also offers up to $1,500 in free lighting and equipment upgrades. 

Chris Hamilton, team lead, commercial energy solutions, at Enbridge natural gas distributor, noted incentives available for hotels that undertake capital improvements, such as the Run it Right program, which provides an audit and then suggests ways that the property can increase their energy efficiency.

Incentives are also available from Toronto Water, according to panelist Kimberley Wright Caraballo, water consultant with Toronto Water. Programs include capacity buyback, which provides a two- to three-hour audit to identify water-saving opportunities; and the sewer rebate program that rewards hotels for purchased water that’s not discharged back into the sanitary sewer system.

On the marketing-green-successes panel, Tracy Ford, public relations director at the Chelsea Hotel Toronto, said it’s important for hotels to implement a green strategy and then communicate it. “Get your ducks in order, get involved in the community and share your story,” she advised.

Last year, the Chelsea Hotel sponsored the Live Green Toronto Festival, held July 19, at Yonge Dundas Square and featuring more than 100 vendors of green products and services. 

Since then, the property has begun working with EarthCheck, the scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, to undertake the process for bronze certification that involves auditing, measuring and benchmarking its energy consumption and waste management.

When hotels sharing their green success stories, they benefit, since doing so can help bring incremental business and can boost market share, said panel moderator Kathryn Wakefield, director of client services at Tourism Toronto.

Steve Ball, director of business development at Green Key Global, said that hotels who’ve attained Green Key status, attesting to their eco-friendly practices, must promote and highlight their sustainable efforts to their clients — and added that Green Key Global can assist with these efforts.

Mark Singh, program manager with Live Green Toronto, said the program, which is run by the City of Toronto, can help hotels tell their green story, and noted the ways in which the program promotes eco-friendly community initiatives. These include The Local Dish, launched in April, which aims to amass Toronto’s largest collection of recipes incorporating local foods; the Live Green Toronto Awards, recognizing eco-friendly local businesses; and the Live Green Toronto card, which provides discounts at participating enviro-friendly businesses.