The Largo Lodge in Key Largo has become the first Upper Keys lodging to receive Green Business certification from the Keyswide environmental nonprofit Green Living and Energy Education.
The Largo Lodge, mile marker 101.7 bayside, features nine units that range from suites with kitchenettes, sitting room and screened porch to single rooms with a bathroom.
"This GLEE certification is our first step in taking years of effort to be green to a new level. We hope to earn the Florida DEP Green Lodging certification eventually," said Neil Boyce, Largo Lodge's manager and owner.
"It was a real learning experience to list all we have accomplished, see how it impacts the business and our environment and also consider what we might do in the future," Boyce said.
Largo Lodge minimizes its water use for its lush landscaping with drip irrigation and mist emitters. The property also has heavy mulch made from trimmings at the lodge, and drought-resistant plants.
Landscaping is designed to shade rooms, reducing energy needs for cooling.
The lodge's main building, which contains its office, has no air conditioning; it has good cross ventilation and a breeze from the bay, shaded windows and porches, and ceiling fans.
Each guest is educated on water conservation and recycling when checking in. There is also a linen-changing policy in place to reduce use of water: Fresh linens are available on request.
Low-flow toilets and sink and shower aerators reduce water use for each unit. Ceiling fans, water-heater thermostats and CFL lights are used to reduce use of electricity.
Energy savings have been measured at 10,000 kilowatts the past four years, resulting in about $1,400 in actual savings. Largo Lodge has also reduced waste and hauling expenses, going from 10 solid-waste receptacles to just five, with much of the waste diverted to recycling.
Future upgrades include replacing older appliances with Energy Star units and expanding the mulch and plant nursery for additional landscaping. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that has created energy-efficiency ratings for things such as appliances. Those earning high ratings get the Energy Star label on their products.
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