Club Operators Are Positive about Being Green

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BOSTON -- More than 70 percent of health club operators say that they have a strongly positive perspective on implementing green practices, according to a green/sustainability survey from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

The survey, released Monday, was conducted to gain insight into the opinions and practices of health, racquet and sports club operators around environmental sustainability and its associated business implications. More than 130 participants answered the survey.

“Going green is a hot topic in business, and naturally, interest and awareness from the club industry are growing,” Jay Ablondi, IHRSA executive vice president of global products, said in a release announcing the survey results. “Club operators are increasingly paying attention to member concerns regarding environmental issues, exploring green business opportunities and implementing appropriate programs: both formal and informal. IHRSA’s touchstone survey results provide a framework for the industry to understand its potential and identify cost-effective solutions for environmental and club sustainability.”

Green practices were a moderate priority at 54.7 percent of the organizations surveyed and a high priority at 33.1 percent. Sixty-five percent of respondents said sustainability practices would set them apart from competitors.

Despite these beliefs, the respondents didn’t seem to think that senior management thought green practices would bring them many members, help them retain members or help them increase profits. Thirty-five percent said that senior management believes green practices would increase membership growth while 38.8 percent say senior management believes it would increase membership retention and 48.9 percent said it would increase club profits.

Green business practices include improvements as small as recycling and cleaning with non-toxic products, to larger construction projects using building materials with low volatile organic compounds, using post-consumer recycled materials, i.e. rubber flooring, and installing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in clubs.

“The world’s increasing need and focus on environmentalism presents health club owners and operators with the opportunity to improve the health of the environment as well as that of their members,” said Bruce Buckbee, managing partner of Leisure Green LLC, who collaborated with IHRSA on the survey and will be moderating a panel discussion on the full survey results at the IHRSA convention next month in San Diego. “Going green can have a positive impact on a club’s image, establish them as leaders in their communities, positively impact its recruitment and retention of members and employees, and improve its bottom line.”

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