Sustainable hotels come in all shapes and sizes. Large, chain oriented hotels tend to have more resources to commit to sustainability practices, but as we’ve explored before, independent hotels, including very small ones, often have more flexibility to pursue these strategies. McKenna’s Inn, located in Catawba Island Township, Ohio, is a perfect example; despite being the smallest hotel we’ve ever featured, this hotel has jumped into the deep end of sustainability with the addition of a wind turbine, an extensive green garden and a series of conservation practices.
Generating in the Wind
The most visible green attribute at McKenna’s Inn is easily the giant wind turbine that provides electricity to the hotel. Standing 120 feet tall, it’s over 50 feet taller than anything else in the surrounding area – but then again, it needs to be in order to avoid turbulence from the nearby forest. The 10 kW turbine was manufactured by Bergey Excel and installed in 2008. In order to help limit costs and safety concerns for the inn, it was connected directly to the electrical grid. To date, the turbine has generated over 49,000 kilowatt hours of electricity for the inn. This has helped the hotel save on energy costs with monthly credits on its electric bill for electricity produced. Environmentally, the turbine has provided a carbon dioxide savings equivalent to over 38 tons! It’s as if the hotel planted nearly 1000 new trees.
Another noticeable aspect of the Inn’s commitment to the environment is the newly designed garden area. Started last year, and still in the process of being refined, the gardens provide local produce grown in a sustainable manner; with chickens, raised right on the property, providing the fresh manure for fertilization. The chicken manure also helps promote composting throughout the hotel. Their rain barrel water collection system both irrigates the gardens and helps save energy by limiting the operational use of the Inn’s electric water pump. All of these efforts help provide a variety of vegetables that, whenever possible, are served as part of the Inn’s morning meals.
Additionally, the hotel has embarked on an effort to promote the growth of native species around the property. With the help of horticulture expert Matthew Ross, the inn has begun planting native plants, especially edible ones. This endeavor has allowed the hotel to engage further with its guests and promises to continue to do so in the coming years.
Less is More
McKenna’s Inn has adopted additional everyday practices that encourage sustainability.
- The inn refuses to provide bottled water to guests and has done so for several years. As owner and innkeeper, Joe Jessen told us and we wholeheartedly agree, “The use of plastic in such quantity is truly a travesty.” Guests are welcome to bring their own bottles and each common room has been equipped with a filtered tap, which seems to be working fine. Perhaps the larger hotels should take notice of this policy?
- Towel reuse is strongly encouraged at the inn, though guests may request fresh towels at any time. This allows the inn to conserve energy, water and cleaning supplies.
- Recycling is also a major priority at the hotel, and has been so for the last decade and a half. Every effort is made to recycle waste, as opposed to sending it to a landfill.
Contributor: David Thurnau has a background in political science, municipal government, and agriculture with an emphasis in environmental issues.
This article first appeared on GreeningtheInn.com.
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