Hotel finds it's easy to be green

Published June 26, 2006

Sometimes you really can do well in business by doing good.

The TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach last month became the only Tampa Bay area property to be certified under the state's Florida Green Lodging program.

The 744-room property had already started water-saving measures such as changing bed linens and towels every three days unless guests ask for daily service. TradeWinds launched an aggressive effort to recycle cardboard, glass and paper. Workers installed low-flow shower heads in each room (at $90 a pop) and replaced old air conditioners with energy-efficient models. A team of 10 employees inspects every room each year for leaks and mold that could cause air-quality problems.

Improvements made to meet the green standards also pay off in that other kind of green. Vice president Keith Overton estimates that TradeWinds saves $500,000 a year.

Recycling has cut the resort's garbage bill. The linen and towel policy is worth $250,000 a year between the savings in water, labor and wear and tear on the white goods, Overton says.

The green designation also should help on the revenue side. The state Department of Environmental Regulation suggests its employees use certified green hotels for meetings and conventions. The state has 15, five of which are Disney resorts.