RIT Inn & Conference Center Wins 2011 Good Earthkeeping Award

Inn goes green on cost and energy saving initiatives with Pollution Prevention Institute

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Kate Rabjohns

The RIT Inn & Conference Center staff has won the 2011 Good Earthkeeping Award from the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association. The staff participated in Earth Day this past April and planted an apple tree on the property. From left to right are Larry Morrell, groundskeeper; John Green, executive chef; Rod White, engineering manager; Carrie Beagle, food and beverage director; Vanessa Greene, sales director; Bob McCarthy, finance director; Brittney Stanley, lead guest service associate; and Bill Gunther, managing director.

The RIT Inn & Conference Center has found economical ways to reduce its energy footprint. Recycling more than 70 percent of its waste, providing recycling containers in guest rooms and sharing water- and energy-saving tips for patrons are only a few of the ways the inn has become more environmentally friendly.

For these efforts and others, the RIT Inn & Conference Center was awarded the 2011 Good Earthkeeping Award from the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association at the organization’s conference on May 2. This is the first time the RIT Inn received the award, part of the association’s annual “Stars of the Industry” program.

The RIT Inn & Conference Center was one of 43 hotels selected to participate in New York’s Governor’s Green Hospitality and Tourism Initiative. Other state organizations involved include the Hospitality and Tourism Association, Pollution Prevention Institute and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The inn was recognized for its Green Team that implemented water and energy conservation plans and resource efficiencies and provided educational programming for staff, guests and students studying related fields, says general manager Janice Emerson. The team consists of representatives from each of the inn’s departments, from sales and event planners to its grounds crew and front-desk teams.

“Our Green Team has been tremendous with ideas and brainstorming,” she says. “Everything they have put together got us to where we are today.”

The team benchmarked energy usage and showed improvements over several years. One of their ideas to put recycling bins in guest rooms has shown success. “This is pretty unique. You don’t find that in a lot of hotels,” says Kate Rabjohns, human resources director. “Guests have told us they appreciate it.”

The RIT Inn & Conference Center Green Team looks to expand on current efforts, expanding its onsite herb garden and increasing composting, she adds. It will pilot use of in-room dispensers of shampoo, conditioner and soaps rather than the traditional miniature plastic bottles that create waste.

“We’d like to install nice-looking, spa-quality dispensers,” says Rabjohns. “We will designate two guest rooms and solicit feedback by surveying and talking with guests to see if it is something we might want to take on for the entire hotel.”

Last April, the inn also received a favorable rating for its green efforts through Audubon International’s Eco-Rating Program for Hotels. The program focuses on hospitality and tourist organizations that are committed to conservation, waste reduction and energy saving plans.

“We received a three-leaf rating and continue to work toward earning our fourth and fifth leaves,” says Emerson. Leaves are given similar to the diamond ranking for the hotel industry indicating quality. The leaf designations indicate a facility’s green quality.