After conducting a rapid feasibility assessment, it was determined that there was demand and potential for success for implementing improved environmental practices in the small hotel sector of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. Overall, 39 hotels participated, all of which made important commitments to implement recommendations from the completed eco-efficiency assessments with technical assistance from the program.
Arbol de Fuego, which has 16 rooms, participated in the program’s initiative by implementing 18 measures in less than nine months, all of which have great potential to generate economic and environmental benefits in the short term. Among the measures proposed by the program, Arbol de Fuego changed 90 percent of its incandescent light bulbs to LED and compact fluorescent bulbs, resulting in an estimated $3,000 savings over the bulb’s utility life. By investing $5 per room on repairing or replacing faucets and showers, the hotel experienced a 40 percent reduction in water consumption. The hotel also eliminated disposable water bottles, replacing them with glass jars in the rooms. Through these changes, it is estimated that the hotel will keep more than 4,500 plastic bottles a year out of landfills.
Carolina Baiza performs the important task of educating about the benefits of these measures; staff, who are trained in eco-efficiency, replicate these lessons in their homes. Guests are also invited to participate in conservation measures through reading guest manuals in each room and participating in the towel reuse program.
Arbol de Fuego is a model in the region because of the results that have been achieved and those that the hotel continues to pursue. This is a prime example of the impact that can be achieved through environmental cooperation. Through changing consumption patterns and reducing operating costs, small businesses are able improve environmental performance and increase competitiveness in the face of dynamic market demands.