Updated January 24 at 4:24pm

Going green puts hotels in black

'If rates are similar, they will pick the hotel that's greener.'

When those behind development of Forty 1 North, a waterfront hotel in Newport that opened in 2011, decided to incorporate substantial sustainability efforts into its design, they figured they were a little behind the times. More

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FOCUS

Going green puts hotels in black

'If rates are similar, they will pick the hotel that's greener.'

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When those behind development of Forty 1 North, a waterfront hotel in Newport that opened in 2011, decided to incorporate substantial sustainability efforts into its design, they figured they were a little behind the times.

As it turns out, they were way ahead.

The boutique hotel in June became the first in Rhode Island to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, a designation that san serve as a marketing tool.

“I’m not sure how much we really put it out there. It takes a while,” said Peter Borden, one of the hotel’s principals and executive director of the SVF Foundation, a livestock cryogenics laboratory in Newport. “It’s not like everyone’s talking about [greening efforts]. I think it’s just becoming part of our everyday language.”

That may only be true depending on who within the industry is talking.

To hear destination marketers and meeting planners tell the tale, customers – booking groups most heavily among them – want “green” hotels.

“Meeting planners are like most members of the general public. They do their best to minimize their negative impact on the environment,” said Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With increasing frequency, meeting planners are asking hotels to address issues of sustainability during the request-for-proposal process.”

A recent article in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research titled “Profiling the Potential ‘Green’ Hotel Guest: Who Are They and What Do They Want?” by University of New Hampshire professor of hospitality management Nelson Barber, reported that guests interested in staying in “green” hotels look for evidence of the property’s efforts, including certifications.

But whether incorporating sustainability practices fits within a brand’s financial plan and whether evidencing them for a piece of paper or plaque that verifies the effort is important to individual properties seems debatable.

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