U.S. EPA adopts green guidelines for travel planning

As of May, hotels and convention centers hoping to woo government accounts might need to polish their eco-cred. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has crafted a list of must-ask questions for potential hosts on topics from energy efficiency to paperless billing to towel reuse. (Anyone else picturing Johnson toweling off, or is it just us?) Now the General Services Administration, which sets policy for the $13.5 billion of annual federal travel, is recommending the EPA list to other government travel planners. “We can use our own purchasing power to influence behavior, and to strengthen the link to our mission of protecting health and the environment,” says Thomas O’Connell, a procurement director for the EPA, which spends $50 million a year on travel. Already-green hotel giant Marriott is licking its chops, and the head of Green Seal — a green-business certifier — says EPA’s move “could have a huge impact in getting hotels to become more aggressively environmental.”