It’s sometimes difficult to discern greenwashing from legitimate environmental claims, which is why AAA has added an “eco” icon to its 2010 TourBooks for hotels, motels, and other lodging. The icon will be similar to those denoting the presence of a pool, casino or pets.
It won’t be easy for hotels to gain AAA’s approval. Properties have to be AAA approved or Diamond rated, and they must also be a certified green lodging site as designated by a national or state green lodging program. A number of certification programs are partnering with AAA for the initiative, including Energy Star, the California Green Lodging Program, Florida Green Lodging Program, and Green Lodging Michigan. Specific certification practices vary, but hotels and motels given the green thumbs up generate minimal waste, use energy-efficient products and practices, compost and recycle waste, and have water-efficient fixtures installed.
Will an eco icon always make a difference for money-conscious travelers? Probably not, but it does make the choice between two similarly priced properties easier, and it gives hotels torn over making costly green upgrades a push towards sustainability.