I just read an article in Environmental Leader, "AAA TourBooks Tag Green Hotels with “Eco” Icon", about how AAA will now list green hotels in both their books and on their website. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/07/13/aaa-tourbooks-tag-green-hotels-with-eco-icon/For years, AAA has not been interested in promoting the environmental practices of hotels and resort properties and according to my sources not open to the conversation. My guess is that it took a very large number of members requesting this information to push this change. Well done!
Now if AAA would just include environmental criteria in their Diamond rating system, the pigs could get off the runway and take flight.
I read the same article and gave them kudos for acknowledging the need to inform if a hotel/lodging is going green! www.EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com is a must when traveling. They list specific green actions the hotel is taking, even down to if they compost. Yay for green travel and the need to inform consumers on the choices they are making.
I agree, it is a wonderful step. AAA has such great buying power behind them, I would love to see them take a leadership role!
I am an intern at The Green Events Guide, and our ultimate goal (which you mentioned at the end of your blog post) is to convince hotel rating systems like AAA to integrate green into their criteria. It is great that AAA is taking steps to provide information through their ECO icon about a hotel's greening practices, but it is not apparent how thorough this program will be.
Since we heard about AAA's new ECO icon, we have been sending them emails to get more information about the ECO icon because it has some problems. The ECO icon seems to just say that the hotel has at least met basic green requirements from one of the AAA-approved green programs. It does not provide incentive for hotels to go further in implementing green policies and pushes green policies off to the side as something hotels can also have instead of something that hotels should have. Another issue is that a few of the green programs AAA bases its ECO symbol on are self-certifying, which is not as credible as AAA's own third-party certification.
I would like to hear more of your thoughts about AAA's new ECO icon. It would be great if you could email me at sherry.GEG [at] gmail.com (or reply to my comment on your blog).
Thanks, Sherry. You did an brilliant job of summarizing the issues and I have the same concerns! Third party assessment (in my opinion) is an integral component aspect of any sustainable certification. I hope AAA agrees makes changes to their own rating system to include environmentally responsible practices. I will address this further as I learn more. Keep us posted if you receive a response!
I asked AAA what they thought about the self-certification programs. They said that one of the biggest issues with on-site verification for the green hotel programs is the resource cost. They said that these private and government programs were chosen through their research to establish a universal green program. They also said that they would put, in their Tourbook and on their website, additional information on how and why certain property listings have the ECO icon.
They don't seem to be too interested in incorporating green into criteria for the Diamond Rating. Rather, it's something they are not interested in right now since they are focused on their ECO icon. The ECO icon may be the best that AAA is doing, but I hope to see their program improving and expanding.
I would like to invite you to participate in the Campaign to Green the Hotel Stars System. It would be great if you could tell people about this campaign so we can persuade people to make greening a normal expectation of hotels. If you have any ideas about what we can do to make this campaign more effective, feel free to tell me about them.
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