OLR Research Report

March 14, 2008




By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked for a discussion of state initiatives to promote “green buildings,” particularly with regard to hotels.

Many states, including Connecticut, provide incentives for building owners and developers to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other green building features. OLR Report 2007-R-0725 (attached) describes potential funding sources in Connecticut for municipal green building projects. Except for the municipal grant program established by PA 07-242, the programs described in this report are available to hotels and other lodging establishments. OLR Report 2008-R-0037 (attached) describes incentives in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon for businesses to install solar heating technologies. OLR Report 2008-R-0168 (attached) describes initiatives in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island regarding energy efficient buildings, solar panel installation, geothermal technology, and other renewable power technologies.

Many states also have green building requirements in their building codes. It appears that Connecticut is unique in requiring large projects in both the private and public sectors to meet the silver standard under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or its equivalent. This provision applies to new construction projects costing $5 million or more, starting in 2009 and renovation projects costing $2 million or more, starting in 2010.

A Department of Energy website,, provides detailed information on incentives and building code provisions for all 50 states. We have not found any cases where there are incentives or building code provisions specific to hotels.

We have only found a few state initiatives that focus on hotels. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection developed a voluntary program in 2004 to help hotels conserve energy and water and to reduce production of solid waste. Under this program, hotels receive a one-palm designation for having environmentally-friendly energy, waste, air, and water practices, encouraging guests to adopt green practices, and establishing a “green team” at the hotel. They receive a two-palm designation for increasing their environmental performance and maintaining up-to-date green practices. They receive a three-palm designation for participating in the program for three years with continuous improvement and commitment. Participants also receive free advertising on the state's green lodging website. Further information about the program is available at this site, Governor Crist has issued an executive order requiring state agencies to hold meetings and conferences at hotels that participate in the program whenever possible.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board has developed a similar program. It is designed to help the hospitality industry minimize its waste, conserve energy and natural resources, and provide it with practical suggestions for sustainability practices that will improve its bottom line. The program also recognizes facilities that have adopted sustainability policies and practices. Further information about this program is available at

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has produced a brochure that identifies steps lodging establishments can take to become more environmentally friendly. The brochure also lists contact information for relevant federal and state agencies and trade groups. The brochure is available at In 2004, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism held two green hotel forums as part of its green businesses program.

In addition to these state initiatives, there is a private Green Hotels Association which has been in existence since 1996. Information about this organization is available at