Most commercial health club operators have a positive outlook on green practices and are focusing on basic initiatives within their clubs, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) Third Annual Green Survey.

IHRSA’s Green Survey gathered data on the opinions of health club operators on environmental sustainability along with specific practices club operators implemented throughout 2011.

“Although results show that many club operators believe green initiatives will increase profitability, they are less clear on the impact sustainability will have on membership growth and retention,” Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, said in a release. “Clubs have been focused on practices such as recycling, improving energy efficiency and water conservation.”

Fifty-nine percent of participants indicated that senior management at their facility has a strongly positive perspective on implementing green practices. Forty-nine percent of participants responded that green practices would increase profits, while 49 percent said they would have no effect on membership growth. Twenty-eight percent of clubs reported that they are unsure of the impact sustainability would have on membership retention.

Some of the popular sustainability initiatives among participating clubs were:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Green cleaning supplies
  • Recycling of bottles/cans, paper/cardboard
  • Water conservation

Some of the lower-ranking initiatives were:

  • Purchase of carbon offsets
  • Measuring greenhouse gases
  • Purchase of green power
  • Alternative energy (solar, wind, etc.)

As important as green practices are to select clubs, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they have no strategic plan around sustainability but have implemented green initiatives nonetheless.

“In spite of conflicted beliefs on the impact of sustainability on business, club operators are overall optimistic of green practices,” said Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s manager of research. “In-house workshops and guides on going green can help club operators sell them on the benefits of sustainability and help them form a plan around more extensive initiatives.”