Greening Your Spa
By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010
With this article, we begin a series of applications of sustainability to particular segments of the lodging industry: spas, conference centers, resorts, and full-service hotels. The intention is to focus on those aspects of the segment that have special opportunities and needs from the perspective of improving environmental sustainability.
The need for and interest in health and sustainability could not be more intrinsic and central to the spa segment, which is dedicated to improving well-being and healthfulness. A recent survey of spa industry professionals completed by TREC International Inc. for the International Spa Association (ISPA) revealed that 46% of respondents indicated they want to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic products, while 52% reported they are currently selecting green products and services or are planning to go "green." In this article, we will look at issues related to spa facilities as well as the operations and internal environments therein. By addressing environmental sustainability, many spa operators are now finding that it is an integral foundation for their business as well as for society at large.
The Spa's Place in the World
Many lodging properties are expanding to incorporate spas to tap this growing market segment, either by converting existing space or by adding a wing or separate building. All such construction has innumerable opportunities to be more sustainable: in the siting and orientation, so as to have least impact and to maximize compatibility with climate (for example, shade for southerly exposures) and opportunity for daylighting and passive solar benefits; in the selection of construction materials, whether it be salvaged or sustainably harvested wood, composite board with adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde, or Green Seal-certified paints or windows; and in the landscaping around new construction, where use of native plants is preferred. Another important design element is selecting and using an effective system for collecting, treating, and recycling water with minimal impact on the land.
Many interior furnishings such as carpet, furniture, and window treatments may contain chemicals (binders, flame retardants, coatings, etc.) that can off-gas volatile toxic compounds for weeks or months after construction. Clearly, no spa wants to assault its clients with such toxins at the same time it is trying to cleanse and restore their bodies and minds. So the choice of these materials must consider their components as well as their overall aesthetics and style.
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