You’re an environmentalist, or at least, environmentally-conscious. You’ve chosen the eco-friendliest holiday you can book for your visit to Chicago, accounting for transportation, souvenirs, food, and tourism in the city, but now you need to find a Chicago hotel that aligns with your values. Where can you stay? Your green hotel should care about their carbon footprint and be able to back up their claims with data and facts to assure you of that your stay does the least amount of harm to the planet possible. There are plenty of opportunities and choices for staying green during your visit to the Windy City, and there are several hallmarks you should be looking for when shopping for the right hotel.
You should certainly be looking for a hotel that is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, if possible. LEED certifications, independently verified by the U.S. Green Building Council, have found that your accommodations follow the proper standards for waste reduction, energy efficiency, resource management, indoor environment quality, and reduced carbon emissions. There are four levels of certification possible, and your hotel should be able to tell you if they are certified, silver, gold, or platinum rated.
While LEED-standards address critical building eco-standards, the Green Seal program is an additional program designed to rate a hotel’s adherence to green practices. Bronze, silver, and gold ratings consider cleaning services, laundry care, food services, and a further look into building standards and maintenance. Green Seal programs are managed by a third party and designed to reduce pollution, waste, and make for an overall healthier stay.
Chicago has numerous hotels meeting both LEED certification and Green Seal program standards. They will usually discuss their practices and levels of certification on their website. Features you may look for in an eco-friendly hotel include knowing how much less water and energy their hotels use, ideally using energy-star appliances. You can check to see if they have a comprehensive recycling program for everything from paper to linens, use low flow water fixtures, and whether they use recycled materials for things like carpeting. Green hotels will often have a sustainable purchasing policy focused on locally-sourced goods and vendors with strong sustainability business models. Some hotels may have additional green programs that allow you to pay an additional fee to offset your carbon footprint. Your extra money would then go towards a carbon offset of your choice.