You can sleep soundly at these eco-friendly B&Bs, knowing that the owners are making an effort to help the environment.
When you stay at a B&B, you expect an intimate experience.
These days, many inn owners are not only focusing on making your stay homey and comfortable, but also environmentally friendly. From the hills of the Wisconsin countryside to the streets of Harlem, bed-and-breakfasts across the country are consciously changing the hospitality industry one guest at a time.
Interior designer Barbara Shadomy is one such innovator who made a sustainable-and stylish-statement with her first project out of design school. When she purchased a renovated and restored historic home on the largest lot in Midtown Atlanta, she knew she had her work cut out for her. In addition to harvesting rainwater, Stonehurst Place (www.stonehurstplace.com; 404-881-0722) recycles grey water (non-industrial waste water generated from dish washing, laundry, etc.)-but implementing it was a struggle because the city didn't have certain regulations and guidelines in place.
The challenges didn't end there. Creating certain features, like mold-proof showers built from a single piece of Corian, was also a true exercise for her architects. "I finally got what I wanted, but things like that were a bit of a struggle because it's different," she says. And the work paid off: Stonehurst recently won EarthCraft House's 2009 Renovation Project Award.
Although some eco-friendly elements, like solar paneling, take planning and foresight, certain intrinsic features of a B&B effortlessly reflect a "reduce, reuse, recycle" mentality. Because many incorporate antiques in their décor, many owners are salvaging pieces that may have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
As invested as these owners are in their indoor spaces, they also tend to the outdoors. "We try to choose natural plants, natives that don't require as much water to sustain," says Joe Cicero, who owns Kings Inn Bed & Breakfast (www.kingsinnsummerville.com; 843-486-0419) in Summerville, SC (26 miles from Charleston), with his wife, Kristan Sagliocco. In addition to xeriscaping (landscaping in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation), Cicero composts fallen leaves from oak trees. Kings Inn, which earned National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat status, also provides a refuge for animals and plants.
Preserving the outdoors is also a top priority of Journey Inn (www.journeyinn.net; 715-448-2424) in Maiden Rock, WI (61 miles from St. Paul, MN). The property has 66 acres of hiking and snowshoeing trails, and its front yard nurtures restored prairie grasses. "People are mainly coming because they want to get out of the city and have time to be quiet and relaxed," says Charlene Torchia, who owns the inn with her husband, John Huffaker.
In addition to focusing on the actual properties, eco-friendly B&Bs are concerned with the guest experience, from the air they breathe to the food they eat. Many employ green cleaning methods and use low-VOC paints. At Journey Inn, guests sleep on mattresses made from natural latex rubber and eat organic, locally grown food for breakfast.
Sagliocco and Cicero also support their community food suppliers, even purchasing their eggs at a nearby monastery. ("Our eggs are blessed," Cicero jokes.) Guests are served biodegradable breakfasts, their scraps thoughtfully disposed of rather than tossed in the trash.
In fact, some proprietors, like Jeremy Archer-who owns Manhattan's Sugar Hill Harlem Inn (www.sugarhill.harleminn.com; 212-234-5432) with his wife Carol Donawa-are so committed to waste saving, they are willing to go extra miles to do so. For Archer, that means transporting food scraps to his upstate New York home for composting.
Going green is also about motivating guests to become more eco-conscious. Sagliocco and Cicero encourage walking into downtown Summerville, and offer a 10% discount for driving a hybrid. And Shadomy says, "When people come to Stonehurst Place, I think a number of them leave inspired to go do something similar."
Whether in the mountains or a metropolis, B&Bs have a special opportunity to set an example for green living. And while they may make a big impact on their visitors, they're also leaving a smaller one on the Earth.
Here's a peek at how these B&Bs are continuing to foster eco-friendly practices.
Owners John Huffaker and Charlene Torchia are building a yurt-similar to a huge tent-for yoga retreats. It will stand in their pine forest with no running water or electricity, and heat will come from a wood stove.
KINGS INN BED & BREAKFAST
Owner Joe Cicero is planning a greenhouse to raise vegetables and herbs. He's also adding a pergola-a type of gazebo-in the backyard, which will offer guests a shaded outdoor space to take in the green environment.
Owner Barbara Shadomy's next project involves purifying the inn's rain-water and certifying it as potable. "The metrics of what we can capture from rainwater collected on the roof make me hopeful we could even be 'off the grid' for most of the year," she says.
SUGAR HILL HARLEM INN
Owners Jeremy Archer and Carol Donawa are planning to install a green roof on one of their buildings. This vegetation will help reduce energy consumption, absorb storm water and extend the life of the roof.