Canterbury/Concord — The NH Green Hospitality Program (NHGHP) awarded its silver certification for sustainable hospitality on May 11, 2017.
A new initiative of the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES), NHGHP recognizes lodging establishments that conserve water, energy and other natural resources, reduce waste and toxins entering the environment and prevent pollution. The program also promotes recycling and purchasing greener products.
“We are an organic farm on conserved land on a sandy bluff above the Merrimack River, so environmental stewardship is a priority for us,” said Lucy Nichols, owner of Riverland. “This is a relatively rare riverine habitat, home to many species that have few choices of where to live. We also have a beach, which is prime people habitat in the warm months. Our goal is to manage the property in ways that balance public access, employ best farming practices and bring this prime farmland back to productive use.”
“Riverland has met the state’s standards for green hospitality at the silver level and is committed to continued improvement as part of recertification every two years. We are also in good regulatory standing with federal, New Hampshire and local environmental regulations. Read more at: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/p2au/pps/ppgh/index.htm.
So, what is Green Hospitality?
Every business is different and will apply the standards in different ways and will apply them differently over time. This is what Riverland has done in its first two years:
Riverland recycles. We ask our guests to discard trash, food waste and recyclables – glass, aluminum, newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, and clean water and soda bottles – in separate bins. We further sort these recyclables and metal food containers and scrap metal, before we take it all to the Canterbury transfer station, where we pay $1/bag to dispose of trash.
Riverland conserves water: We have installed new, dual-flush toilets in our guest baths and are introducing low-flow shower and faucets, as we remodel. We change guest linens once a week for longer stays, unless guests request a change.
We have also planted native plants, which tend to be drought tolerant. They needed no watering during the very dry summer of 2016.
Riverland cuts electricity use. In our first two years, we have halved our use of electricity by reducing our use of air conditioning and installing LED lighting throughout.
Most of us in New Hampshire live without air conditioning as we are well North and our houses are well insulated. Many of us have a window air conditioner in just the bedroom for those occasional really hot nights, because who wants to miss out on a good night’s sleep?
At Riverland, we work with Mother Nature. On hot summer days, we keep the doors and windows closed during the day and open the windows in the evening to bring in the cool night air and then close the house up again in the early morning. This generally keeps us comfortable on the ground-floor. We do, however, have window air-conditioners in the bedrooms for those occasional heat waves and for the second floor. Even in New England, heat rises.
We ask our guests to help out by closing doors behind them and drawing curtains in their rooms during the heat of the day. We also ask guests to turn off lights and air conditioners when they leave their room.
Riverland reduces oil and propane use. We have also reduced our use of fuel oil by 125 gallons per year by insulating gaps around doors and windows. We burn wood in the fireplace many winter evenings, which helps offset our use of fuel oil.
We also minimize our use of propane for cooking and drying laundry. “On a good day, we hang our sheets and linens to dry outside, which gives them the best clean smell in the world,” said Nichiols. “We bring them in damp with the evening dew and iron them crisp with our Miele Rotary Iron for our guests’ comfort.”
Riverland reduces waste. Shopping local is one of the best ways to reduce fuel used in shipping products across the nation and the world and excess packaging, because packaging at the farmer’s market tends to be little to none. “Since we are small, organic farmers ourselves, shopping locally is something of a religion for us,” says Nichols. At this point, eggs are the only local food product we can find year-round, because … winter. We buy from the Concord Food Co-op and local farms, whenever feasible. We study ingredients carefully and chose organic and nearly organic products most of the time.
To reduce packaging, we also use pump-activated soap and lotion dispensers in our bathrooms, rather than individually packaged soaps and lotions. We also buy highly concentrated cleaning products that need to be diluted or are pre-measured in an exact dose.
In our purchasing, we avoid single-use products. The glasses in our rooms are made of glass and re-washed with each use. We use micro-fiber cloths in our cleaning, which can be washed and re-used.
And it probably goes without saying that we compost food waste and use newspaper to start the wood fire.
Riverland minimizes the use of toxins – inside and out. We are aware that many people have developed chemical sensitivities and carefully review the ingredients in our cleaning products, especially the frequently used dish and laundry detergents. Our Laundry detergent is Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible UltraClean Premium laundry detergent, which is certified by SaferChoice. Our dish detergent is Kirkland Environmentally Responsible premium liquid dish soap. Our cleaning products are Bio-Kleen and vinegar and water.
The following information sheet lists the ingredients in these products. The NHGHP program mandates that we use biodegradable products without phosphates and that we do not use: chlorine bleach, ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid or dinitrilotraacetic acid (EDTA), Nitrotriacetic acid (NTA), Monoethanolamine (MEA), 2-Butoxyehtanolar ethylene glycol monobutyl either (EGBE) or butyl cellusolve, methoxyethoxy ethanol or diethylene glycol monomethyl either (DEGME), alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE), Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP).
The conservation easement on our farm mandates organic management. We do not spray our foundations, because they do not need it. We choose native plants that generally do not suffer from pest damage. When needed, we use natural products allowed in the organic protocols.