Oklahoma’s largest hotel and conference center has become the first property to earn the highest sustainable travel certification offered by ECO – Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma – the state’s premiere sustainable travel program.
The National Center for Employee Development, located off State Highway 9 in Norman, earned the Platinum Travel Standard certification by meeting set criteria and implementing sustainability programs.
Hardy Watkins, Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department executive director, said the NCED is a good sustainability practices model for all conference centers.
“Since NCED is the largest conference facility in the state, its environmental impact is significant,” Watkins said. “By implementing sustainability programs and joining ECO in our conservation efforts, NCED is not only helping Oklahoma reduce its carbon footprint, but is also providing a benchmark that other large conference centers around the nation should seek to meet.”
NCED began implementing green programs about seven years ago, said Yves Badaroux, NCED general manager.
“Going green makes perfect business sense, and can be a significant driver of guest satisfaction, as well as associate engagement,” Badaroux said.
Some of the sustainability efforts include using environmentally-friendly laundry and cleaning products, recycled office supplies, low-VOC paints and converting the chlorine pool and spas to salt water. In addition, an herb garden is planted every year, and food scraps are donated to the Little River Zoo.
During a renovation in 2009, more than 64 tons of wall vinyl and carpet were recycled. Between 2008 and 2009, the facility reduced gas consumption by 18.3 percent, and began using glass water bottles, which eliminated the use of 80,000 plastic bottles a year.
Since 2009, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department and Department of Environmental Quality’s ECO Certification program has promoted, developed and encouraged sustainable tourism throughout the state. ECO Certification requires applicants to meet set criteria and be reviewed by a national certification board. A certification level of silver, gold or platinum can be awarded, based on the level of sustainable practices the applicant chooses to implement.
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) is working to advance the exceptional quality of life in Oklahoma by preserving, maintaining, and promoting our natural assets and cultural richness. The department is the steward of the state park system and also promotes Oklahoma as a travel destination through many award-winning programs. To learn more about Oklahoma Tourism visit http://www.travelok.com/ or follow us at www.Facebook.com/TravelOK or www.Twitter.com/OklahomaTourism.