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Sunshine State Goes GreenApril 13, 2009 By: Mackenzie Allison Travel Agent
Lake Eola Park is a green haven in downtown Orlando
With an abundance of natural attractions—not to mention its extraordinary attractions of the man-made variety—Florida is always striving to erase the carbon footprint of the millions of tourists who visit every year as properties and cities alike are doing their part to give back to the earth.
The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach is one such property. The luxury five-star hotel, which rests on South Ocean Boulevard, has received several accolades, including recently joining the 2009 AAA Five-Diamond Award list. The property can now add one more prestigious notch to its belt: Green Seal certification.
This is the first property in the Ritz-Carlton portfolio to receive such an honor. Green Seal, which recognizes sustainability leadership performance levels and practices for products and services, gave the Palm Beach resort the honor for its efforts in recycling paper products, cardboard, printer cartridges, glass, plastic and aluminum cans; installation of recycling bins in offices, guest rooms, kitchens and bell desks; the use of 30 percent recycled paper; and the donation of outdated furniture and equipment to local non-profit organizations and charities.
The hotel has also reduced water and energy by giving guests energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning and low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets.
Sustaining the environment is not only confined to improvements with the hotel. In an effort to protect the environment, the property has also put forth efforts to protect the Everglades and Jupiter Beach. To protect the creatures that inhabit this area, the hotel removes beach chairs so turtles can find their way back to the ocean during nesting seasons. And while guests may not find an actual turtle in their guest room, they will find a replica of Loggie the sea turtle, which they can purchase and a portion of the proceeds go to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
The Entertainment Room of the Presidential Suite at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, which was recently Green Seal certified
Elsewhere in Florida
While Fort Lauderdale is changing its image from a spring break destination to a luxury enclave, it is also making its mark with green efforts. Near the Intracoastal Waterway, the high-tech, three-level, 600,000-square-foot Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center is LEED certified and is pursuing Silver Status this year.
In central Florida, Orlando—a destination known more for “the mouse” than nature-friendly practices—is enhancing its reputation with green efforts. Several of the city’s convention centers, resorts, theme parks, restaurants and spas are making conscious efforts to incorporate green practices.
In 2007, the Orlando County Convention Center became the first center in the U.S. to become ISO 14001 Certified for its recycling program. On the theme-park side, all of the trains at Walt Disney World Resort run on 100 percent biodiesel fuel.
Hotels in Orlando that have shown nature-friendly efforts include the Rosen Plaza, Rosen Centre, and Rosen Shingle Creek, which have become the first Central Florida hotels to receive Two Palm status as part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program.