Going (Sea Turtle) Green
“I grew up on Pensacola Beach – we were the 11th family to live on this island year-round. And then, I went away to college, got a job and was gone for seven years – I spent six of them trying to get back here!” explains Beverly McCay, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express Pensacola Beach, a 76-room oceanfront property sitting on a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico.
The abundant wildlife in the area is one of the life-long Pensacola Beach resident’s favourite features; it’s also a driver for tourism, with sea turtles playing a key role. Over most of the 33 years McCay has been on property, the hotel has averaged at least one nest on premises annually.
While many in the community are excited by sea turtles, one thing they may not realise is the impact that artificial lights can have – causing hatchlings to get disoriented, crawl around the beach and unable to make it back to the ocean.
Having implemented a number of sea turtle friendly features over the years, McCay jumped at a win-win opportunity to further minimise impact and save on utility costs through installing balcony and terrace lighting with shielded, energy efficient LED alternatives.
The sea turtle lighting project and several other subsequent efficiency initiatives recommended through IHG Green Engage, such as installation of motion sensors, smart thermostats and replacement of water boilers, have combined helped to reduce the hotel’s utility costs considerably.
“Not just speaking to the hotels on barrier islands, not just speaking to hotels about doing things that are good for nature, but speaking to a hotelier whose looking at his bottom line – I would suggest that they do everything that they can to conserve their utilities, to retrofit whatever they can – it works for the bottom line if nothing else!”