Some may say it's not easy being green, but The Willcox Hotel and Restaurant proved otherwise as it was recognized for its environmentally-friendly facility.Willcox owners Geoffrey and Shannon Ellis were awarded certification Tuesday for the highest level of designation in environmental sustainability offered by the South Carolina Green Hospitality Alliance. This alliance is a program sponsored by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and S.C. Hospitality Association which offers goals to hospitality facilities that can help reduce the environmental impact they may have.The alliance awards certification by rating it from one to three palmettos; three being the highest and most rarely received. The Willcox received dual "Three Palmetto" distinction for both the restaurant and hotel, making it the fourth hotel and first restaurant to earn this honor in South Carolina. The Willcox is the first establishment in the state to reach six palmettos, according to the alliance's Director of Operations Douglas O'Flaherty."This is just a wonderful award for the treasure we have in Aiken - a historic treasure," said Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh. "It's a very exciting moment because it sets the bar higher for other places in Aiken and South Carolina to obtain."The Willcox earned the certification by filling out a detailed application that lists a series of guidelines to follow in which the facility will be judged and receive points. The guidelines include the improving of air quality, becoming more water and energy efficient, obtaining greener ways of cleaning, purchasing more environmentally preferred products, reducing waste, increasing recycling, holding green meetings and catering and offering sustainable foods."We're very pleased that they've taken the time and energy to fill out the application," said O'Flaherty. "It's not an easy process."O'Flaherty added that even more importantly, The Willcox conquered the feat within an older facility which is a lot harder than completing the process in a newer building.The Ellises, Executive Chef Regan Browell, General Manager Tina McCarthy, along with the staff of both the restaurant and hotel, converted the facility in accordance with the program's guidelines, which took about six to seven months to do, according to Shannon. Shannon said the couple has wanted to go green for quite a while, and the changes have offered a healthier environment for both the guests and staff.The Willcox will celebrate its 113th birthday this year as it was established in 1898 by caterer Frederick S. Willcox. The Ellises would like to see the facility continue to flourish and the green guidelines may help it continue to do so."It ensures the sustainability of the area so that The Willcox can continue for 100 more years if we're very careful about the things we do and make conscious decisions," Shannon said.Kim Newell with the SCDHEC grew up in Aiken and knows the vast history of The Willcox. Newell said she was happy to see a hotel as old as The Willcox receive such distinction for its green efforts."Being green and sustainability is very important," said Geoffrey. "We hope that other businesses will follow suit and help Aiken and this great state of South Carolina be more green and sustainable."Contact Amy Banton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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