Analysis - August 18, 2010



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August 2010


Print Sustainable tourism,

“Green” practices in British Columbia’s B&B industry

Numerous studies have examined environmental practices in hotels (Winter & Azimi, 2006; Johnson, 2008; Hanna, 2008; Gunter, 2008; Bohdanowicz, 2005), but very few have focussed specifically on the environmental practices of the B&B industry.  Bed and breakfasts (B&B) are defined as lodging establishments set in a residence that offer overnight accommodations and breakfast (Rushmore & Baum, 2001). B&Bs are, by definition, much smaller than typical lodging operations, which are usually full-service hotels; however, the B.C. Ministry of the Environment in 2007 found that residential and commercial buildings in B.C., which include B&Bs, produced 12% of total greenhouse gas emissions.  With the recent Olympics held in British Columbia, the focus had to be on environmental initiatives for all players and actions taken to further this environmental agenda. A study was done to assess the current “green” practices in British Columbia’s B&Bs as well as to determine the awareness of owner/operators about such practices and their level of participation.  The study also identified and measured what owner/operators felt were the barriers and incentives to implementing “green” practices.

The primary data used for this study was based on 146 valid responses from B&Bs in British Columbia (13% of an 1100 sample size), which were completed using an online survey tool in October 2008.  Research found that a significant number of B&B owner/operators indicated they have implemented “green” practices in their operations. The most common “green” practice was recycling; an average 73% of owner/operators “always” recycle. Owner/operators also exhibited environmental awareness by “usually” or “always” purchasing organic (40%), locally grown (66%) and low-toxic items (62%). The tendency to purchase organic and local items depended on availability and the B&B’s location, with remote locations finding this difficult. Additionally, 80% of participants indicated that they take the initiative to learn about environmental management. This shows that the trend of becoming more sustainable is apparent within B&Bs in B.C.

Barriers that hindered B&B operators from implementing “green” practices included financial restrictions, lack of resources and location. The financial restrictions cited as a barrier were also consistent with the response that a monetary incentive would be effective. The majority of respondents were not part of a “green” association that recognizes environmental initiatives through certification. In fact, no standard certification process exists for B&Bs in B.C.

Recommendations from this report outline how stakeholders could help B&Bs develop more “green” practices. First, government and associations could improve communications and increase the availability of feasible “green” practices that B&Bs could implement. The creation, implementation, communication and monitoring of government incentive programs in the field of sustainability would also improve B&Bs “green” practices. Second, an association could be created at the provincial or local level to recognize “green” initiatives through certification. Third, B&Bs could also become more aware of the current provincial and federal incentives offered to establishments for retrofitting.

Overall recommendations for government, associations and industry include the creation of a co-operative marketing initiative involving all three stakeholders.  This initiative could help increase awareness of “green” practices and specifically target the “green” niche market. The study notes that B&Bs are often not considered when discussing the impact of tourism and its contributions to mitigating climate change or moving towards more sustainable tourism. If Canada is to be seen as an eco-conscious destination, the B&B industry must not be forgotten. – new-

– Bohdanowicz, P., «European Hoteliers’ Environmental Attitudes: Greening the Business», Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 46 no 2, 2005, p.188-204.
– Gunter, H., «State programs help define green hotels», Hotel & Motel Management, vol. 223 no 10, 2008, p. 4.
– Hanna, E., «Setting the guestroom for the guest», Hotel & Motel Management, vol. 223 no 10, 2008, p. 48.
– Johnson, A., «Savings by the load», Hotel & Motel Management, vol. 223 no 11, 2008, p. 34.
– Rushmore, S. & Baum, E., «Hotel and Motels: Valuations and Market Studies», USA: The Appraisal Institute, 2001.
– Winter, J. P. & Azimi, S. L., «Less Garbage Overnight: A Waste Prevention Guide for the Lodging Industry», New York: INFORM, 1996.

  • klem

    I agree. I want to see more B&B’s practicing sustainable living. I want to see a wind turbine outside every B&B. I think if you are going to use your house to make money, you should be forced by law to help the environment. I am going to begin lobbying the provincial government for a law to force them to have wind & solar outside every B&B. If they want to make money, they gotta help save the planet while they’re at it.

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