By Jim Burket, Penn State
Environmentally charged programs at the Penn State hotels caught the attention of a statewide organization, which recognized the two facilities for their continued commitment to the environment and instilling sustainable practices into their day-to-day operations.
The Nittany Lion Inn and Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel won the Pennsylvania Waste Watchers Award. The designation identifies businesses and schools that overachieve in their commitment to recycling, waste reduction, reuse and composting.
The program is sponsored by the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania, which celebrates the sustainable efforts of organizations across the state. The Penn State hotels’ sustainable energies reach every corner of their facilities and are ingrained in the procedures and routines of their employees. Together they are a leader in “green” hospitality.
A Green Team, which finds ways to run the operations in a more efficient and sustainable way, consists of several employees from both hotels. The group is recognized by the Campus Sustainability Office, which provides resources and educational tools for University departments.
The hotels Green Team pays special attention to items that are generally seen by people as “unrecyclable,” like fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and scrap metal. The group finds ways to either recycle or properly dispose of the materials. Other procedures that have made Penn State a leader in environmental hospitality include reusing linens, composting and purchasing recycled or recyclable products when possible.
Annually, the hotels compost more than 250 pounds of organic waste from its kitchens. The compost is taken by the University’s Office of Physical Plant and used in campus landscaping projects. The Penn State hotels also include as many local products as possible on their restaurant menus.
The Nittany Lion Inn, which is a luxurious Four Diamond hotel, features a menu that focuses on local cuisine in its Dining Room. Executive Chef Andrew Monk not only appreciates the economic impact local choices have on the community, he also knows the environmental impact as well.
Penn State and Waste Watchers, as well as The International Association of Conference Centers and The American Hotel & Lodging Association, have noticed the grand efforts of the hotels and honored their commitment to the environment.