Best Practices for Hotels & Motels

This is a compilation of Best Management Practices for greening hotels and motels industries which covers the following areas:

  1. Recycling and General Office Waste Reduction
    1. Office-related Practices
    2. Recycling
    3. Product Procurement
  2. Energy Conservation
    1. Equipment Facility/and Employee Practices
    2. HVAC
    3. Refrigeration
    4. Dishwashing and Laundry
  3. Water Conservation
    1. General Equipment/Facility Changes
    2. Kitchens
    3. Landscaping
  4. Pollution Prevention
    1. Hazardous Materials Management
    2. Reducing Chemical Use
    3. Recycle-Reuse Wastes
    4. Stormwater Runoff and Wastewater P2 for Sewers
    5. Generic
    6. Air Emissions Reduction
  1. Recycling and General Office Waste Reduction
    • Have an assessment done of your solid wastes (regular, non-hazardous, garbage and recyclables), of use the following guidelines:
      • Identify what materials/wastes are currently being generated; approximately how much; and how they are being managed (i.e. garbage, recycle, etc.).
      • Look for opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Use this checklist as a guide.
      • Review the assessment (and this checklist) annually to identify new ways to reduce waste.
      • Ensure that both employees and management (and subcontractors if applicable) are implementing the green measures.
    1. Office-related Practices
      • Make two-sided printing and copying standard practice in your business (set copier to default to duplex printing or manually feed to duplex). If your facility has an older printer without duplex capability, use only for single page documents and ensure multi-page documents are printed on duplex printer.
      • Keep a stack of previously used paper near printers. Use it for drafts, scratch paper or internal memos or designate a draft tray on printers with multiple trays.
      • Reduce unwanted mail by the following: Write to or call senders requesting removal from mailing list.
        • Return labels from duplicate mailings and subscriptions requesting all but one be removed.
        • Write “refused” on first class mail and return to sender.
        • Visit for an on-line guidance
        • Purge your own mailing lists to avoid duplication.
      • Practice efficient copying by using the size reduction feature (e.g. print two pages of a book on one page).
      • Minimize misprints by posting a diagram on how to load special paper like letterhead so it will be properly loaded.
      • Design marketing materials that require no envelope – simply fold and mail.
      • Lease, rather than purchase computers and printers.
      • Select products shipped with less packaging and/or easily recyclable packaging.
      • Choose vendors who take back products after their shelf life is over (i.e. fluorescent light bulbs) OR work with vendors to minimize product packaging:  Ask vendors to take back packaging and used or damaged products for reuse and recycling. Specify deliveries in reusable or returnable containers.
      • Replace several similar products with one or two that do the same job.
      • Use electronic files rather than paper ones. Draft documents can be reviewed, edited, and shared on screen.
      • Use optical scanners for precise ordering; track material usage to optimize ordering and use of time-sensitive materials.
    2. Recycling
      • Implement a hotel-wide recovery and recycling program. Make it easy for employees to recycle by placing clearly marked collection bins in convenient locations.
      • Recycle or reuse all of the following fibers: cardboard (corrugated cardboard boxes); mixed paper (junk mail, scrap and colored paper); newspapers; office paper (white ledger, computer and copier paper).
      • Recycle food and beverage containers (all glass, plastic and aluminum containers).
      • Recycle Green Waste: compost and recycle food and landscape waste. Set up appropriate green waste and composting service with your garbage company. Make composting part of the contract with your landscape service.
      • Offer optional linen programs that allow guests to opt not to have their linens and towels changed daily.
      • Donate half-used amenity bottles to local shelters, nursing homes, and halfway houses.
      • Change amenity programs so that rarely used items are supplied only upon request.
      • Switch to bulk-dispensed shampoo and other guest room amenities.
      • Install air hand dryers in staff washrooms or cloth roller towels instead of paper towels.
      • Replace in-room plastic cups with glass, cocktail napkins with reusable coasters and Styrofoam cups for coffee service (in-room and common areas) with reusable cups.
      • Replace disposable flatware and tableware with reusable items.
      • Require chemical suppliers take back empty pails and drums.
      • Donate old uniforms and linens to shelters or nonprofits or otherwise recycle them.
      • Eliminate inner-pack dividers in shipping containers for miscellaneous supplies.
      • Replace wire/plastic hangers with permanent hangers.  (This measure will lower theft and replacement costs and reduce waste!)
      • Reduce number of garbage bag liners used.
      • Donate or exchange unwanted but usable items (furniture, supplies, electronics, scrap materials, computer disks, etc.) to schools, churches, hospitals, libraries, nonprofit organizations, museums, teacher resource organizations, etc. Enroll in a waste exchange program where your unwanted items can become another company’s resource.
      • Donate excess food: non-perishable foods (bread and produce OK, but not meat or cooked food) to food banks.
      • Use stained or old guest towels and washcloths as rags.
      • Use a laundry service that provides reusable bags for dirty and clean linen.
      • Other (e.g. recycle or reuse wood- pallets or from remodeling, carpeting).
    3. Product Procurement
      • Purchasing products made from recycled materials conserves resources and is essential to support the recycling market. You should make every attempt to purchase the following items made from recycled content:
      • Copy, computer or fax paper (35-100% post consumer waste).
      • Letterhead, envelopes and/or business cards (35-100% post consumer waste)
      • Folders or other paper products,
      • Pencils, pens, rulers and other desk accessories.
      • Toilet paper, tissues and paper towels (35%-100% post consumer waste).
      • Boxes and bags for retail use or shopping (bags made from recycled paper, recycled plastic soda bottles).
      • Garbage pails or garbage bags. (Recycled high density polyethylene [HDPE] trash liner bags instead of low density polyethylene [LDPE] or linear low density polyethylene [LLDPE]).
      • Other (e.g. mulch, soil amendments, dumpster lids, utility bins, benches, playground equipment, recycled content paint, re-tread tires for vehicles
  2. Energy Conservation
    • Have your energy provider conduct a free audit of your facility’s energy use to provide you with specific suggestions or recommendations to conserve and reduce energy. Review progress at least one year after recommendation implementation to identify other opportunities to increase energy savings through energy use reduction.
    • Perform regular maintenance on your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and refrigeration system.
    • Keep a log of all maintenance activities.
    • Institute and/or maintain a written policy that inspects permanent filters every 3 months and clean permanent filters with mild detergents when necessary (change replaceable filters every three months).
    • Institute and/or maintain written maintenance program that checks the entire system for coolant and air leaks, clogs, and obstructions of air intake and vents.
    • Institute and/or maintain written maintenance program that keeps the condenser coils free of dust and lint.
    • Institute and/or maintain written maintenance program that keeps the evaporator coils free of excessive frost and debris.
    1. Equipment Facility/and Employee Practices
      • Use electrical equipment with energy saving features (e.g. Energy Star®) and ensure that Energy Star® settings are enabled (manual set-up often required).
      • Use hardware programs that save energy by automatically turning off idle monitors (after 15 minutes). Computers (30 minutes) and printers (10 minutes). (See for information and software options).
      • If purchasing new computers, buy EPEAT certified ( If purchasing monitors, consider flat-screen light emitting diode (LED) monitors which consume approximately 1/3 less energy than larger ray tube monitors.
      • Use and maintain a written maintenance program for weather stripping (weatherizing and caulking) to seal windows and doors to close air gaps around doors and windows.
      • Insulate all hot water pipes, hot water heaters and storage tanks.
      • Convert electric hot water heaters to natural gas, unless building has on-site renewable electricity production.
      • Use a solar water heater or pre-heater.
      • Install a gas booster heater for hot water use (e.g. laundry, dishwasher etc.).
      • Maintain and implement written policy that drains and flushes hot water tanks to the sanitary sewer every six months to prevent scale build-up and deposits. (This can reduce heating efficiency).
      • Maintain and implement a written policy that sets hot water heaters to standard 125-130º F.
      • Maintain and implement written policy that checks pilot lights for proper adjustment (e.g. gas kitchen, hot water).
      • Install timers on hood fans (or variable speed drives); exhaust systems and hood-lights.
      • Use or invest in renewable energy for at least 50% of your energy needs (ask your local utility if this option is available in your area).
      • Plug Equipment into a time switch to turn off after working hours.
      • Institute a formal policy to turn off equipment when possible.
        1. Lighting
          • Replace non-dimming incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Replace low-wattage dimming or non-dimming incandescent bulbs with cold cathodes. Use halogen lamps only for low-wattage spotlighting in retail environments.
          • Replace magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts. Install T-8 or T-5 lamps.
          • Improve exit sign energy efficiency. Use LED or LEC (electroluminescent) exit signs.
          • Disconnect unused ballasts in de-lamped fixtures. Replace burned out lamps to avoid ballast damage.
          • Install optical reflectors or diffusers to increase lighting efficiency and reduce the number of fixtures, lamps.
          • Install lighting controls, such as: Occupancy sensors in spaces of variable occupancy, such as common area restrooms, private offices,
            • linen closets, storage, etc.;
            • Bypass/delay timers;
            • Photocells for exterior lighting and/or areas with significant natural daylight;
            • Time clocks for large banks of lights on circuit breaker that generally operate during off hours.
          • Install dimmable ballasts to dim lights to take advantage of daylight. Use daylight dimmers that turn off automatically when there is sufficient light.
          • Institute and implement a written policy that all lighting be turned off in non-occupied rooms. Use light switch reminders to remind customers and staff to turn off lights
          • Disconnect unused ballasts in de-lamped fixtures. Replace burned out lamps quickly to avoid ballast damage.
          • Maintain and implement written policy to clean lighting fixtures, diffusers and lamps so that they are lighting as effectively as possible (dirt can reduce lighting efficiency by up to 50%) and replace aging fluorescent tubes.
          • Maintain and implement written policy to check and adjust lighting control devices such as time clocks and photocells.
          • Use task lighting with energy efficient bulbs instead of lighting the entire area.
          • During slower periods, group customers so that lights and heating/cooling can be turned off in unoccupied areas.
  3. HVAC
    • Use ceiling fans to promote air circulation and reduce the need for air conditioning.
    • Apply window film to reduce solar heat gain. Shade sun-exposed windows and walls to mitigate the effect of direct sunlight during the summer. Use awnings, sunscreens, shade trees, shrubbery. Only applicable for air-conditioned spaces.
    • Use all variable frequency drives (VFDs) on fan and pump motors.
    • Use Variable Air Volume (VAV) systems for central air conditioning.
    • Install an Energy Management System (EMS) for central air conditioning systems.
    • Use economizers on A/C to reduce the operation of the compressor, and ensure that the system is operational.
    • Replace single or package A/C unit with one meeting the Energy Star requirement. Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating (SEER) > 13 for most common size of equipment.
    • Convert electric heating system to a natural gas system, unless building has on-site renewable electricity production.
    • Replace inefficient or broken windows with double pane energy-efficient windows. 90% of windows in facility must be double pane.
    • Install bypass timers and/or time clocks.
    • Use a small fan and a space heater to condition a very small area during off hours instead of heating or cooling the entire facility.
    • Set thermostat to 76º F for cooling, 68º F for heating, and use the thermostat’s night setback.
    • Institute and implement written policy that ensures blinds and curtains are closed during the peak summer period or use ceiling fans to block sunlight and keep room cooler thereby reducing A/C load.
    • When repainting building exterior and replacing roofs, choose light colors to reflect more sunlight.
    • Seal off unused areas from air conditioning and/or heating. Block and insulate unneeded windows and other openings.
    • Institute and implement written policy that ensures room-cooling units are turned off or the thermostat is adjusted when the weather is cooler and/or the room in unoccupied.
  4. Refrigeration
    • Replace inefficient refrigerators (usually older than ten years) with a new efficient model, such as one labeled Energy Star®.
    • Insulate all refrigeration cold suction lines.
    • Install plastic strip curtains and auto closers on walk-in refrigerator/freezer doors.
    • Install open–door buzzers on walk-in refrigerators, if applicable.
    • Provide shade for HVAC condenser, especially for roof-top units exposed directly to the sun.
    • Ensure that freezer defrost time clock is set properly to avoid peak energy use periods (noon to 6 pm).
    • Maintain refrigerator doors by replacing worn gaskets, aligning doors, enabling automatic door closers, and replacing worn or damaged strip curtains.
    • Set refrigerator temperature between 38°F and 41°F and freezer temperature between 10°F and 20°F.
    • Maintain proper refrigerant level, refrigerant charge and ensure refrigerant is not leaking.
  5. Dishwashing and Laundry
    • Use a low-flow pre-rinse nozzle for dish scraping/pre-cleaning. (Saves both heating and water costs).
    • Use a water-conserving dishwasher to save both heating and water costs. Reduce dishwasher temperature to the lowest temperature allowed by health regulations and consistent with the type of sanitizing system you are using. A door-type dishwasher should use 1.2 gallons/rack or less). Low temperature machines requiring chemical sanitizers are available.
    • Operate dishwashers only when fully loaded.
    • Install dryer dampness sensors.
    • Institute and maintain a written policy that ensures the lint filters are cleaned after every drying load.
    • Consider wastewater recycling and/or ozone systems for laundry.
  • Water Conservation
    • Have your water company conduct a free waste use survey of your facility. Review it annually to identify additional ways to reduce your water use.
    • Understand your water bill and review it monthly for indications of leaks, spikes or other problems.
    • Call your local water company’s water conservation section if you notice any unusual increases in use or if you are looking for suggestions on how to improve the efficiency of your water use.
    • Learn how to read your water meter. (It is recommended that the meter is read twice a day for early detection of water consumption spikes that may indicate leaks or other high use problems)
    • Regularly check for and repair all leaks in your facility (toilet leaks can be detected in tank toilets with leak detecting test tablets) Train your staff to monitor and respond immediately to leaking equipment.
    • Use “dry sweeping”, water efficient “spray brooms”, or low flow (
    1. General Equipment/Facility Changes
      • Replace all pre-1992 toilets with 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) toilets. Provide additional urinals in men’s restrooms and reduce no. of toilets. Replace non-efficient toilets (>3.5 gpf) with ultra high efficiency toilets (< 1.2 gpf).
      • Replace all urinals with models that flush at no more than 1.0 gpf. Replace non-efficient urinals with new ultra low-flow (
      • Install low flow aerators with flow rates not to exceed 1.5 gpm for sink faucets and lavatory sinks and 2.0 gpm for kitchen sinks, and 2.5 gpm (or lower) low flow showerheads.
      • Post signs in restrooms and kitchen areas encouraging water conservation.
      • Institute an optional towel and linen reuse policy for guests. Provide guests with information in the room about this option.
      • Install low flow, self-closing faucets, either infrared or spring-loaded.
      • Install water efficient clothes washers (front loaders if possible).
      • Install a graywater system to deliver reusable water for cooling, washing and watering landscapes (call your local Public Health Dept. to see if permitted).
      • Replace existing spray valves with efficient, high-velocity models.
      • Retrofit once-through water cooled refrigeration units, air conditioners, and ice-machines by using temperature controls and a re-circulating chilled water loop system
      • Replace water-cooled air conditioning units with air-cooled models.
      • Reduce water pressure to no higher than 70 pounds per square inch (psi) by installing pressure-reducing valves with pressure gauges.
      • Install conductivity controller on cooling tower.
      • Adjust boiler and cooling tower blow-down rate to maintain total dissolved solids (TDS) at levels recommended by manufacturer’s specifications.
    2. Kitchens
      • Monitor continuous flow fixtures: Soak dirty pots and pans versus cleaning with running water;
        • Hand -scrape dishes before loading into dishwasher;
        • Do not use constantly running water to melt ice in bar sink strainers or to thaw food;
        • Turn off food preparation faucets not in use;
        • Educate staff about the benefits of efficient water use.
      • Operate dishwashers only when fully loaded. Check with the manufacturer to see if dishwasher spray heads can be replaced with more efficient heads, or if flow regulators can be installed. In conveyor type washer, ensure that water flow stops when there are no dishes in the washer. Install a sensing arm, or ware gate that will detect the presence of dishes.
      • Turn off the continuous flow used to wash the drain trays of the coffee/milk/soda beverage island. Clean thoroughly as needed.
      • Install foot triggers on faucets.
      • Evaluate wash formula and machine cycles for efficiency. It may be appropriate to reprogram machines to eliminate a cycle.
    3. Landscaping
      • Test irrigation sprinklers 4 times per year for leaks, water runoff, over watering and dry spots and make necessary adjustments to ensure proper operation and coverage.
      • Repair all broken or defective sprinkler heads/nozzles, lines and valves.
      • Adjust sprinklers for proper coverage – optimizing spacing and avoiding runoff onto paved surfaces.
      • Adjust sprinkler times and/or durations according to seasons, water during non-daylight hours to limit evaporation (generally before 7 am or after 9 pm).
      • Install signs in restrooms, restaurants and guest rooms encouraging water conservation, without compromising proper hand washing procedures for food handlers and employees.
      • Landscape with drought resistant plants.
      • Use low volume irrigation such as a drip system or soaker tubes. Use soaker hoses (made from recycled rubber) to deliver water directly to plant roots.
      • Use reclaimed water for irrigation and other approved uses.
      • Avoid runoff by making sure sprinklers are directing water to landscaped areas and not to parking lots, sidewalks or other paved areas.
      • Mulch all non-turf areas, preferably with recycled wood chips.
      • Use repeat cycles when watering lawn or shrubs in clay soils (if you’re planning to water for 8 minutes, water twice for 4 minutes each).
      • Modify your existing irrigation system to include drip irrigation or soaker hoses where feasible.
      • Use evapotranspiration irrigation controllers.
      • Use rain shut-off devices as part of irrigation/landscape control measures.
      • Plant drought tolerant ground cover or shrubs (preferably native species), instead of turf.
      • Replace water intensive turf with woodchips, plant based mulch, loose stones or permeable pavers. [Brick and cobblestones will block water from penetrating the ground since they are typically installed with concrete].
      • If installing new turf limit area and use drought tolerant species (water efficient landscape guidelines are available from your local water agency/utility).
      • Renovate existing landscape to include drought tolerant plants.
      • Hydrozone: Group plants with similar water requirements together on the same irrigation line, and separate plants with different water requirements on separate irrigation lines.
  • Pollution Prevention
    1. Hazardous Materials Management
      • Restrict the use of any harmful products by purchasing them in small quantities and limiting access to authorized personnel.
      • Reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides by implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Use biological controls, traps and barriers, less toxic pesticides such as soaps, oils and microbials. Change plantings (locations and incorporate pest resistant plants into landscape), irrigation, cultivating and storage procedures to minimize pest attractants and harborage.
      • Use enclosed delivery systems for transferring cleaners and/or other chemicals to prevent spills.
      • Implement a “just in time” purchasing policy and a “first-in/first-out” chemical usage policy.
    2. Reducing Chemical Use
      • Review the products you use and replace harmful products with safer alternatives. Establish a list of acceptable products.
      • Use low-toxic janitorial cleaning products such as window, toilet bowl, and carpet cleaners, etc.
      • Use low-toxic paints and building maintenance chemicals.
      • Eliminate aerosol packaging and use mist spray bottles when necessary.
      • Use natural or low emissions building materials, carpets, or furniture.
      • Use electric power tools rather than gas powered tools.
      • Use paint removal methods that minimize uncontrolled dust, vapors, fumes and debris such as wet scraping, tenting or HEPA-vacuums and avoid chemical or heat paint stripping.
      • Use high-efficiency paint spray application equipment.
      • Apply water, fertilizer to your landscape only when needed rather than on an automatic schedule.
      • Do business with other “Green” vendors or services such as Certified Green Businesses (printers, landscapers, etc. listed at or vendors using environmentally preferable practices (e.g. vegetable-based print inks).
      • Use or invest in renewable energy (ask your local utility).
      • Replace standard fluorescent lights with low or no mercury fluorescent lights.
      • Buy recycled oil for your vehicles and equipment.
      • Buy rechargeable batteries for TV remotes, pagers, cell phones, etc.
      • Switch from commercial air fresheners to potpourri or vinegar and lemon juice.
      • Switch from toxic permanent ink markers/pens to water-based markers.
      • Purchase laundry detergents with little or no-phosphates.
      • Purchase dishwashing detergents with reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs, which are a source of air pollution).
      • Print promotional materials with soy or other low-VOC inks.
      • Use unbleached and/or chlorine-free paper products (copy paper, promotional paper, paper towels, coffee filters, etc.)
      • Use recycled or remanufactured laser and copier toner cartridges.
      • Provide certified organic, fair trade certified beverages to guests.
    3. Recycle-Reuse Wastes
      • Grease, oil and solvents.
      • Excess paint (give to hazardous waste collection program, donate to anti-graffiti program, or return to manufacturer).
      • Properly recycle spent fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs, electronic equipment (such as computers, cell phones, and pagers), and batteries.
      • Send used toner cartridges back to the manufacturer for recycling or refilling.
    4. Stormwater Runoff & Wastewater P2 for Sewers
      • Install a catch basin filter in your parking lot storm drains AND clean private catch basins once a year before each rain.
      • Minimize kitchen grease from washing down sewer drains by scraping grease from trays, grills and pans into waste grease can. Consider installing a grease trap if applicable – maintain trap and a maintenance log.
      • Do not use biological or chemical additives for your grease trap or interceptor. This passes grease from the trap to the sewer
      • Disconnect all garbage disposals.
      • Place baskets in sink drains to catch solids that can be composted and/or materials that should go in the trash.
      • Use drain screens in all floor drains and sink drains.
    5. Generic
      • Locate all hazardous materials and waste storage away from drains. Install secondary containment or berms around liquid storage and transfer areas to capture spills.
      • Keep a spill kit handy to catch/collect spills from leaking company or employee vehicles.
      • Keep garbage or recycling/compost containers covered when not in use.
      • Routinely check storage areas, pipes and equipment for leaks, spills and emissions of chemicals, paints and cleaners. Repair any deficient items found.
      • Keep receiving, loading docks, dumpster and parking areas free of litter, oil drips and debris.
      • Clean spills in a way that minimizes water use (sweeping, damp mopping, hydrophobic spill clean-up methods rather than hosing) and routes water to sanitary rather than storm drains.
      • Post signs at trouble spots (e.g. loading docks, dumpster areas, outside hoses) describing proper storage, spill clean-up and maintenance practices.
      • Label all storm drains “No Dumping”.
      • Use landscaping to minimize erosion problems, especially during construction or remodeling.
      • Install shut-off valves at storm drains on property or keep temporary storm drain plugs available at loading docks or outdoor process areas for quick spill response.
      • During construction, confine, contain and properly dispose of construction and demolition debris to protect storm drains.
      • Have an outdoor ashtray or cigarette “butt” can if there is regular smoking by employees, customers, or visitors.
    6. Air Emissions Reduction
      • Keep company vehicles well maintained to prevent leaks and minimize emissions and encourage employees to do the same.
      • Help Encourage commuter alternatives by informing employees and guest about transportation various options (post bicycle route maps, and transit schedules/routes before driving directions).
      • Provide your guests information on van pool or mass transit services to and from the airport and other transportation centers (post this information before driving directions).
      • Post bicycle route maps, transit schedules, commuter ride sign-ups, etc.
      • Offer lockers and showers for employees who walk, jog or bicycle to work. Provide your own, or subsidize the cost of locker rentals and shower passes at a nearby health club.
      • Encourage bicycling to work by offering rebates on bicycles bought for commuting, or provide employees a stipend or subsidy for bicycle maintenance.
      • Offer secure areas for bicycle storage for employees.
      • Set aside car pool/van pool parking spaces.
      • Offer electric vehicle recharge ports for visitors and employees using electric vehicles.
      • Convert company vehicles to low-emission cars, using natural gas, electricity or alternative fuels.
      • Link trips to accomplish all errands for your hotel in one outing.
      • Purchase carbon dioxide offsets for your vehicle.
      • Arrange for van transportation between your facility and remote events.
      • Offer telecommuting opportunities and/or flexible schedules so workers can avoid heavy traffic commutes.

Acknowledgement:  This compilation of best practices is based upon Green Business Certification Standards provided by the Monterey County Green Business Program.