Kelowna hotel reaches for the sun

Best Western Plus Kelowna first hotel to gain Ecobase certification.

While many businesses are still switching to LED light bulbs or even setting out paper recycling bins, one Kelowna hotel ticked most of those eco-friendly boxes years ago, and now it’s looking up, way up, for its most ambitious sustainability project yet.

The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites recently became the first organization to become Ecobase certified.

Ecobase is a Kelowna organization that helps businesses invest in carbon-reduction projects and generate an ‘eco-fund’ to cover the costs.

“We are so excited to be a part of the ecobase Certified program,” said hotel owner Greg Salloum, who over the last 20 years has championed green initiatives for his hotel such as electric vehicle charging stations, low-flow toilets, a LEED-certified 24-room environmental wing and an advanced solar hybrid water-heating system.

“We like to be industry leaders in sustainability, and with this program, we can achieve our environmental goals faster.”

When Ecobase began working with the hotel to identify priority projects, all the ‘beginner’ steps had already been done, and they eventually looked to the sun—to a solar PV array—as the first project for the newly certified hotel.

“This is a big, ambitious project, but that’s really where they’re at,” says Ecobase chief executive officer Angela Nagy, who also heads GreenStep Solutions and the Green Tourism program. “We’re very excited to be working with the Kelowna Best Western because they really are such leaders in the hotel and tourism industry.”

That leadership and their recent Ecobase certification comes at the same time that GreenStep signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association to promote both ecobase and green tourism certification to its stakeholders as part of the first phase of their regional efforts to develop a Charter of Sustainability.

The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel is the first hotel in the region to be certified by both programs.

“We promote sustainability stewardship because it is what we believe in. We have taken on corporate responsibility to assist others in our industry on their own sustainability journey. It’s great when we hear we have inspired others in the tourism industry to challenge themselves to do more,” said Brenda Rayburn, director of sales and marketing for the hotel.

“We’re all going to benefit because the demand is growing as more and more people seek out eco-friendly accommodations and activities so they can travel responsibly.”