Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eco Friendly York House Inn Works Hard On Green Lodging Initiatives

The imposing beauty of the sturdy pre-civil war farmhouse which has served as an inn since 1896 still has the power to captivate onlookers and entice travelers in from the road. Her wide, expansive porches and upper verandas call guests to sit and take in the views of the nearby mountains and valley landscapes.
Our Inn nature trail
Hemlock forests that surround the property and front lawns of the inn haven’t changed over the centuries. Although the York House Inn maintains the historical architectural standards that earned the inn a place in the Register of Historical Places in 1982, significant changes are underway that will help secure a place for the Inn in coming generations. The York House Inn is getting an eco-friendly facelift!We have gained more efficient water usage by installing low flow toilets and are well on the road in conservation of other natural resources. Reducing waste generation is achieved by not only recycling, but by using recycled and re-purposed products wherever possible and eliminating our use of toxic chemicals for painting, cleaning, fertilizing and pest control. Recognizing the move to electric vehicles, we have applied for the installation of an electric car docking station.

That’s good news for the growing number of green travelers who support lodging which combines eco-friendly and sustainable amenities with the priority of guest comfort and hospitality. As the first owners to incorporate a plan for sustainability at the York House Inn, we are pleased to announce that many environmental improvements have already been completed in all guest rooms and common areas.

We are proud to have recently earned two eco- friendly designations within the lodging industry. As a Trip Advisor’s Gold Level Green Leader and a member of the highly regarded Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program, green travelers will now be alerted to the eco-friendly amenities and responsibilities that make the York House Inn stand out among other lodging choices in the Rabun County area. In fact, we take pride that the York House Inn is one of the few lodging facilities in Georgia to participate in the Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program.

Our long and short term goals for continuing to environmentally advance the York House Inn and the natural preserve of Hemlock forests and nature paths include plans that will lessen the inn’s impact on the local and global environment. Steps to reduce our footprint include conserving energy through retrofitting the entire inn’s lighting for better efficiency, installing energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems supplemented with ceiling fans.
Our spring house

Since re-opening the York House Inn in summer 2013, we have completed many of the eco-friendly projects on our list for the inn. All of our thirteen uniquely appointed guest rooms plus our common areas now share many energy saving features. Outfitted with our guest’s maximum comfort in mind, all rooms feature energy efficient compact fluorescent lighting, clean burning natural gas for heating, ceiling fans for cooling and bulk purchased eco-friendly and cruelty free amenity products. Recycling bins can be found in each guest room and throughout the inn. We are also dedicated to not using harsh chemicals when cleaning and have chosen Meyers Organic and other cruelty free cleaning products for laundry, guest rooms and other common areas in the inn. All appliances have been replaced with Energy Saver models.
Guests enjoy our wonderful in room amenities

Our sustainability programs extend into and support our community. Many of our foods and wines used at the York House Inn are locally sourced and purchased from nearby farms and wineries, for a truly fresh, farm-to-table experience.

Plans for 2014 and beyond include improvements to the grounds and reestablishing our acre or so of farm for planting fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. This area outlined in our National Register of Historic Places information has not been in use for some fifty years, so the work will be great; but the benefits to our guests even greater. We hope to continue to improve efficiency by retrofitting windows, upgrading the inn’s roof, and further developing our recycling and re-purposing programs.

Bulk amenity and new bulbs
A valuable part of the Audubon International program involves educating travelers and our local community to the benefits of green lodging.  Towards this end we have in room materials as well as website information educating guests as to our commitment and its benefits. We also plan for 2014 events to demonstrate our commitment to the environment. The commitment to go green in lodging is an ongoing process, one that requires time, research for the most advanced technologies and best practices, but it is a commitment that has far reaching effects and benefits all in the long term.

Christine and I are dedicated to an environmentally sound business model at the York House Inn. Green lodging practices is in part made possible as the demand for green lodging is growing from travelers who lead an environmentally conscious lifestyle and are looking for eco-friendly lodging. According to a 2009 study conducted by market research group, PhoCusWright, only 8% of self-described “green travelers” thought it easy to find sustainable lodging.

The idea of sustainable lodging is not new. Our amenities are by one of the early green lodging amenity providers. Greenwich Bay of Raleigh, North Carolina was created in 1962. However, it still seems as if a growing commitment to establish recognized green lodging establishments has yet to become the norm in much of the lodging industry. There are still wide swings in what constitutes green lodging, with some property rating systems requiring only minimum changes in a hotel’s practices to qualify as an eco-friendly property. This is why we are proud to be affiliated with Trip Advisor’s Gold Level Green Leader program and the Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program. The Audubon program is very important as it requires extensive third party verification of green standards. Both programs we participate in are noted leaders in the green lodging movement in lodging. We are proud that the York House Inn is on such a path to eco-friendly success!