* What: Green Lodges program certification
* Companies: Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Chattanooga and Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown Chattanooga
* How is it green? Green Lodges program certification is an indication that a hotel has taken substantial steps to reduce its so-called carbon footprint and create a more environmentally friendly operation. Hotels must meet the minimum requirements of offering an optional linen service, recycling water and energy conservation.
* When: The Courtyard was certified in November and the Residence Inn in February.
* Why do it this way? "There are a growing number of tourist associations and guides who when they look at cities, they want to see that the places have sustainable practices," said Dobbin Callahan of Sky Con, an independent environmental consulting firm that awards the certification. Andrea Anderson, general manager for the hotels, said sustainability is good for the environment, customers and the bottom line.
* Plans for expanding? Ms. Anderson said a renovation of the Courtyard's lobby is under way to make customer's aware of the hotel's green outlook when they first arrive.
* Any suggestions for others considering green initiatives? Ms. Anderson encourages others not to be intimidated by the phrase "going green," saying that there are little things people are doing that are considered "green."
* Is this an essential part of the business and why? Ms. Anderson said it's important to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve. "It's about taking care of each other and our ecosystem," she said.
--- Compiled by staff writer Tamara Best, firstname.lastname@example.org