The Greening of Lincoln City

DSC8164-300x199Lincoln City, Ore. – Lincoln City prides itself for being green, but that hasn’t stopped it from getting greener. The first city on the Oregon Coast to be an EPA green-power community, the first to buy energy as wind power and the first to place free charging stations for hybrid automobiles, has created a SeaStar program that makes it easy and profitable for its business people to help their bottom line and at the same time protect the environment.

SeaStar pays off
A few of the activities included in the city-funded program are recycling wastewater to use for landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands and properly recycling all curbside pick-up recyclables. SeaStar certified businesses all have green managers or teams, regular trainings for maintenance and operations staff and a written process that allows staff and guests to provide feedback. They use energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling equipment and they no longer use environment polluting Styrofoam products and the list goes on.

What started it all was a conversation between Lincoln City Mayor Lori Hollingsworth and Lincoln City Visitor and Convention Bureau Executive Director Sandy Pfaff. VCB Special Events Coordinator Katera Woodbridge gave it its name.

“We had to come up with something to call it and with our rich store of tide pools filled with such things, I thought SeaStar sounded right,” said Woodbridge, a native of Waldport who has been on the VCB staff for three-and-a-half years. “Kent St. Clair, a designer who was working for a local print shop at the time, came up with the logo design which turned out to be a great visual. We’ve already used the logo on some T-shirts to wear to trade shows.”

The goal of the program was to increase awareness of environmentally sustainable practices that would protect the environment now and in the future. To do that, they made the criteria to participate in the voluntary program simple and affordable to implement so it would make good business sense. As a bonus, it provides marketing opportunities and help for participating properties to gain national certification.

SeaStar in action
When Rob Lee, a native of Lincoln City who recently returned from 11 years in California to become director of operations for the Coho Oceanfront Lodge learned about SeaStar, he jumped right on it.

“I was really pleased to see the city as a whole be so passionate about sustainability,” Lee said about first hearing of the program. “Given that leisure travel is the main focal point of the local economy, SeaStar not only sets us apart from other cities but it really sets a standard for us all.

“We’ve had SeaStar at the Coho for more than a year now and now we are starting it at our sister property, the Inn at Wecoma,” Lee said. “It has made us evaluate all of our practices on a regular basis and continue to seek future improvements. Since my wife attended a local class Chef Sharon Wiest teaches at the Culinary Center, we have been trying to figure out how to add composting onsite so that it works with our daily operations.”

To do this, Lee said the company has assigned its Guest Service Rep. Bonnie Monk as the eco-leader to work with front office, housekeeping and maintenance teams to ensure the lodge follows guidelines and keeps management accountable and on point with initiatives it has set in place.

“We are proud to earn the right to display the SeaStar,” Lee said.

What’s next for Lincoln City
What’s next for Lincoln City? The program continues to be refined, and hoteliers like Rob Lee are continuing to follow it because it helps the bottom line and gives tourists the option of choosing properties that are sustainable.

“We have about 25 percent of the lodging folks certified and another 10 percent of restaurants and retail shops,” Woodbridge said. “We will start working more on it again this winter now that the heaviest part of tourist season is over. As more and more businesses enjoy the savings to their bottom line, the more they are excited about becoming certified. We think earning and displaying the SeaStar will make a difference.”

So, the next time you visit Lincoln City, keep an eye out for SeaStar logos in Lincoln City hotels, restaurants and retail shops. It will give you a good idea of who is up to what.

For more information, contact Katera Woodbridge, Lincoln City VCB, 541-994-2408, email kateraw@lincolncity.org or Rob Lee at the Coho Inn Lodge, 541-996-2953. Email roblee@thecoholodge.com.

-Jan Jackson

 

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