Improving Air Quality in Your Community
This information will help you gain a better understanding of questions lodging property owners and operators may have about air quality in the lodging sector. The sections below provide more information on this topic.
- What are lodging properties and why should they reduce air pollution?
- What are the health effects of air pollutants that come from lodging properties?
- How can lodging properties reduce air pollution?
- What is a "green" lodging property?
- The hospitality industry encompasses a wide range of services and activities such as lodging, restaurants, food services, and convention centers.
- The lodging sector consists of hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts.
- Maintenance and operations activities within the lodging sector may release pollutants into the air and may contribute to health concerns at lodging properties and in the community.
Lodging properties emit pollutants such as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). These pollutants can contribute to health problems that may affect employees, guests, and the community.
- Cleaning supplies, synthetic materials, paints, and pesticides can release HAPs and VOC.
- ODSs such as chlorofluorocarbons may be released by improperly maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units, refrigeration units, and fire extinguishers.
For more information on the toxicity of these pollutants, check out information in EPA's Health Effects Notebook and on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA also has more information available at its Air Toxics Web site.
Making changes in how lodging properties maintain their facilities can stop pollutants at the source and improve indoor air quality. By evaluating and improving work practices, lodging properties can decrease emissions, reduce operating costs, and protect employee and public health. Examples of changes in work practices that help reduce air pollution include:
- Changing Cleaners
- Choose non-toxic products such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon oil.
- Purchase cleaners with less than 10% VOC by weight and those that have low HAP content.
- Choose pump-style sprays instead of aerosols. These sprays emit fewer HAPs.
- Increase cleaning power of low toxic substances by combining, for example, baking soda and vinegar.
- Learn more about how to safely use different cleaners.
- Modifying Building Maintenance Practices
- Use water-based, or other less toxic paints and coatings to maintain floors and walls.
- Reduce the amount of refinishing needed for hardwood floors by regularly inspecting floors to determine where the most wear occurs. Refinish only those portions.
- If possible, use indoor furniture made of wood instead of pressed wood products. If that isn't possible, then use pressed wood products that contain phenol resin instead of urea resin, which is more toxic.
- Controlling Emissions of HAPs and ODSs
- Limit idling of tour buses around HVAC intake vents and entrances to prevent high concentrations of diesel vapors from entering the building.
- Use "good housekeeping" measures, such as checking for leaks in piping, to avoid loss of ODSs during HVAC unit and refrigeration equipment maintenance and operation.
- Recover and reuse ozone-depleting substances after dismantling HVAC and refrigeration equipment for service.
- Retrofit existing HVAC and refrigeration units to avoid leakage and loss of existing ODSs.
- Phase out chemicals that deplete the ozone by retrofitting HVAC units and refrigeration units to use chemicals with low or zero ODS content. There are financial benefits to phasing out these chemicals that help offset the expense of retrofitting. The cost savings will result from the prevention of chemical leakages and from the improved energy efficiency offered by many of the newer, zero-ODSs and units.
- At the end of equipment service life, replace with new and more efficient equipment that does not use ODSs.
- Reducing ODS Emissions from Fire Extinguishers
- At the end of its service life, replace halon-containing fire extinguishers with alternative, non-halon equipment.
- Inspect halon-containing fire extinguishers frequently for leaks. Repair or replace if leaks are discovered.
- Learn more about the issues associated with indoor air quality.
- EPA, in association with Purdue University, has developed a toolkit, Environmental Enrichment for the Lodging Industry: A Toolkit, to help lodging properties assess where they can reduce pollution.
- A "green" lodging property is a property that is managed to be environmentally friendly by making a conscious effort to reduce pollution. Many people prefer to stay at a hotel that follows "green" principles; this may result in increased income.
- Being a "green" hotel, which includes improving indoor air quality, tells the world that the environment is important to the owner or operator of the lodging property.
- Being a "green" hotel also raises staff and guest awareness about the need to be as environmentally friendly as possible. When guests learn about a hotel's environmental activities, they provide positive feedback, indicating increased customer satisfaction.
- Several associations, including the "Green" Hotels Association , and Green Seal may have indoor air quality certification standards or suggestions on how to "green" hotels in general.
- Check out the standards that Vermont has set for green hotels - Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State (PDF) (2 pp, 25 KB, about PDF).
- Learn about the "green" practices developed by Habitat Suites in Austin, Texas by reading their Environmental Practices Handbook (PDF) (10 pp, 48 KB).
- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has developed information related to "green" hotels.