Conservation. Stewardship. These are two objectives of the Boothbay Region Land Trust and its Conservation Partner program.
In 2013, the Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa became the Land Trust's hospitality conservation partner.
“We were doing some research on green-focused lodging in the Boothbay region and Spruce Point Inn kept popping up to the top,” Nick Ullo, BRLT Executive Director said. “We had been talking about collaborating with Spruce Point Inn and it seemed like a good fit.”
For several years, Spruce Point Inn owners Angelo DiGiulian and Joe Paolillo have been working toward creating a greener, environmentally conscious business.
In 2006, they heard about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Leader program for lodging owners.
When DiGiulian and Paolillo received the materials and an application from the state, they realized many items on the list, like recycling ink cartridges, herb gardens and composting were already being done. That year Spruce Point Inn was identified by the MDEP an Environmental Leader.
Once a business is labeled an Environmental Leader, it becomes a member of the Maine Office of Tourism's Maine Green Lodging Certification Program and can be found on their website.
“Overall, when you think about 20,000 people coming to the Inn, the little things you can do make a huge difference,” DiGiulian said. “It's our responsibility – if the environment isn't pristine, what are we? Nature is what Maine offers. A big business in a small community can have a big impact (on the environment) if you're not careful.
DiGiulian described how Spruce Point Inn began to give guests the option of limited service in 2012. This meant fewer linen changes to help with water conservation and other options.
Twenty percent (or 4,000 guests) opted to participate in the conservation effort. A wooden buoy hung on the door knob of a room or cottage of limited service guests.
One of the inn's green practices, using salt water as a herbicide instead of chemicals, was discovered through Mother Nature and the Inn's observant Engineering Manager Harold Shorette.
“I was driving in to work after a bad storm and I noticed that all the grass on the shoreline had turned brown,” Shorette said. “I thought about it and wondered if it was because of all the salt in the heavy surf from the storm.”
Shorette said he talked to DiGiulian and Paolillo and they decided to experiment. Shorette treated the grass area around the tennis courts and along the edging of the walkways. And it worked.
“The weeds or grass go dormant for about two weeks, then the third week you start to see new coming up,” Shorette said. “It may not last a whole season like Round Up, but it is very effective – and green.”
Shorette said the inn has been using green cleaning products in the guest rooms as well as green laundry products.
The inn also uses the minimal amount of chlorine the state requires in its pools. In the salt water pool, they use a 50-50 mix of ocean water and unsalted water, Shorette said.
“When the sun shines on the pool, it creates its own chlorine,” Shorette said. “We now use one-tenth of the chlorine we used to use which also becomes a savings for the business.”
The conservation partnership
Ullo said BRLT looks for businesses that see conservation as their responsibility. Businesses must demonstrate that they have or are taking steps toward supporting conservation.
Businesses join the Land Trust at the conservation partner level. They then share a Facebook page with BRLT and are highlighted as partners in the Land Trust's newsletters.
“There is also some level of exclusivity; as long as Spruce Point Inn is supporting us in this program we will not seek another lodging partner. They are our preferred lodging in the area,” Ullo said. “Just as our preferred construction partner is Knickerbocker Group, our other 2013 conservation partner.”
Knickerbocker encourages building LEED-certified buildings, high-efficiency insulation. Knickerbocker plan to give a presentation on green construction.
Ullo said for Spruce Point Inn, it could be on the environmental means they use – composting, gardens, organic treatments, buying local and organic, using low flow faucets, Energy Saver appliances, etc. that could be done by homeowners interested in being as “green” as possible.
“Its important to get this information out there. It's a benefit, getting alternative info out there that perhaps people can use in their own homes like using low flow faucets … anything we can do to help people make their space green,” Ullo said.
Environmental Leaders have to reapply every two years. Shorette said the inn is in the process of doing just that. DiGiulian said MDEP sends someone down to see what's being done and ifthere are additional measures being taken.
BRLT launched the Conservation Partner Program in 2011, an expansion of its Adopt a Preserve business partnership begun eight years ago.
“The conservation partner program is an opportunity for BRLT to form long-term partnerships with “green-focused” businesses in the region,” Julie Lamy, Development and Outreach Director, said in an email to the Register. “The Land Trust celebrates and publicizes the environmentally friendly work of its partners, partners support BRLT’s conservation mission, and together they develop programs to engage and inform the public about conservation of natural resources and ways to become more 'green.'”
For more information on the Boothbay Region Land Trust visit www.brlt.org. For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Leader program visit www.maine.gov/dep/assistance/greencei.