Guest House is Green!
Sustainable, environmentally friendly practices are essential to our mission and are at the core of our business. It’s an ongoing effort and our personal goal is to become greener and cleaner every day. Read below about some of our green certifications, initiatives and projects.
Green Lodging Certification
Certified in 2009 and re-certified in 2017, Guest House is one of the first Green Lodging facilities in Connecticut. This effort involves all of our staff members working together to ensure Guest House is as environmentally friendly as possible. This certification touches all of our processes and systems: serving water in pitchers instead of bottles, using products made of recycled materials, avoiding disposable cups/plates/flatware, buying concentrated products in larger bulk containers, using Energy Star® appliances, applying paint with low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), using green-certified cleaning products, maintaining high efficiency in our heating and cooling systems and much more. This is the overarching program that is the spark for the other initiatives you’ll see on this page.
Reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order! People tend to forget that, and just recycle everything they can. However, recycling isn’t quite the clean process we all want it to be just yet, so Guest House treats it as the last resort. We strive to use less by buying concentrated consumables in large bulk containers, or find alternative solutions that produce less waste. Once we generate waste that would normally go in the trash or recycling bin, we do our best to reuse it sensibly: large empty yogurt containers are sanitized and become to-go containers, fence panels are broken down and turned into nature trail guideposts, and “oops I printed in black and white!” paper is cut into scraps for note taking and other projects.
Guest House is situated on 12 acres of wooded land, adjacent to the 16,000 acre Cockaponset State Forest. Being a good neighbor means we ensure a large portion of our land remains a safe and hospitable location for local wildlife. Specifically, our land provides access to naturally available food, water, cover and places to raise young.
Powered by Wind
Connecticut is one of many states that allows residents and businesses to select their electrical power generators, making the money we spend on electricity an opportunity to vote for sustainable energy at the state and national level. As part of our commitment to green practices, Guest House selects 100% renewable energy providers for its long-term energy contracts. We have just entered into an agreement to purchase wind-powered electricity through 2021.
Food Waste & Compost
By effectively managing our menu development and food preparation processes, our Dining Services team ensures that we generate as little prepared food waste as possible. Starting in 2019, we will be using food preparation scraps (vegetable peals, egg shells, etc) as the fuel for our new composting program. In the past we’ve partnered with farmers to put this waste to use for their animals, but we now have numerous flower beds, landscaping projects, and an herb garden that will all be richer for it.
A retreat center can generate lots of waste soap over the course of a year. We almost always find partially used soap bars left over in our guest rooms. Guest House has joined the Clean the World program to put these scraps to beneficial re-use. This program receives our guests’ partially used soap, sanitizes it and redistributes it to needy populations around the world.
Our housekeeping staff works diligently to make Guest House one of the cleanest facilities around. However, many cleaning products are not environmentally friendly and can negatively impact our waste stream, water table, or our guests and staff! To minimize these impacts, we have audited all of our cleaning products and, to the extent possible, we use green certified products to be protective of our staff, our guests, and our environment.
Efficient Heating & Cooling
We are very close to completing our multi-year commitment of transitioning our guest rooms away from oil-heated, “all or nothing” HVAC systems. We are moving on to electric, energy-efficient “mini-split” style units. These are not only more efficient, but they also allow staff and guests to control the climate in all of our spaces individually. On top of that, moving away from oil means our wind-powered electrical provider goes even further toward global energy sustainability.
We are keenly aware of all the ways that running a facility can impact the air we breathe. As a result, we have several initiatives in place to keep our air as clean as possible. We use pesticides and poison as minimally as possible when it comes to stubborn weeds and pests. When we repaint a section of the facility, we use low- or zero-VOC paints. Only a handful of our cleaning products have any scent at all – and so, when you walk into a guest room, all you smell is clean! All this means Guest House is a great place to take a breath.
Minimal Disposable Goods
Sometimes a ceramic mug just won’t do it. In the past we have provided disposable cups to both guests and staff, which needlessly added more waste to our swollen landfills. In 2017 we began a test initiative providing reusable covered mugs in our dining areas. This reduces waste, as well as the volume of cleaning products needed in our facility by avoiding stains from incidental spills. We have also removed disposable plates and flatware from our dining room. In the rare events when we do need them, we use biodegradable products.