Travel

By AnnMarie Marano

It’s time to turn things around. And nobody is realizing this more than the hospitality industry. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ has become more sought after than ever by builders, owners and operators of hotels from budget properties all the way up to luxury.

LEED certification has rating systems for all sectors, including home, retail and commercial, providing a trustworthy and respectable stamp of approval for environmentally responsible buildings and healthy interiors. Projects are awarded either Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum certificates. To earn certification, a building project must meet certain prerequisites and performance benchmarks or “credits” within individual categories. The level of certificate depends on how many “credits” are awarded.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, “LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.”

For more information on LEED and what it means to be “green” visit http://www.usgbc.org.
Here are just a few of the hospitality brands and properties that are leading the charge in creating luxury experiences that have less of an impact on the earth.

“1” Hotel and Residences, Starwood Capital Group
In 2008, the Starwood Capital Group will bring us “1” Hotel and Residences — a luxury, eco-friendly global hotel brand. All buildings will be built to LEED standards and all interiors will be LEED compliant. The first is set to open in Seattle and the first international property will be in Paris. The new brand will set out to prove that green principles can in fact coexist with a luxury hospitality experience. The Natural Resources Defense Council will be an environmental advisor on the project and each property will donate one percent of its revenue to local environmental organizations.

The Ambrose and the Ray, California
The Ambrose is already there for the taking in Santa Monica, but “Ray,” – built on the site of Charles and Ray Eames’ former design studio – will only start construction this year in Venice Beach.

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of owner and operator Deirdre Wallace, these two properties should both be LEED certified in the years to come. The Ambrose is going through LEED-EB (existing buildings) and they are building Ray to LEED standards, shooting for Gold.
Wallace says that she went to the community first, before the city, holding local events to make residents aware of their goals with “Ray”.

With the Ambrose, they’ve taken it right down to the cleaning products and now only use non-toxic. They also offer priority Hybrid parking, are composting as well as recycling and offer an all organic breakfast and 24 hour room service from the nearby “Urth café.”

Intercontinental Hotels Group Launches “Chase the Extraordinary”
Intercontinental Hotels Group announced recently that its Americas Operations division – The Hotel Management Group – has launched a new environmental initiative entitled “Chase The Extraordinary.” IHG executives will go on a good old-fashioned road trip, visiting company-managed hotels to rally employees around new initiatives slated for 2007. The first of which will be a change-over of 250,000 incandescent light bulbs to new energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights in guest rooms at more than 200 company-managed hotels across the Americas.

According to Energy Star™, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, a compact fluorescent light’s lifespan is up to 10 times longer and uses 2/3 less energy than incandescent light bulbs. IHG’s program will result in an annual reduction of almost 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of removing over 17,000 cars from American highways.

The “Chase the Extraordinary” tour started in Atlanta on May 1 and ends in Dallas on Oct. 23. In keeping with the tour’s environmental theme, a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid will be driven by the group of executives who will include Tom Murray, CEO, the Americas and Alvaro Diago, area president, Latin America . They will hit 30 states and 12 countries.

(P.S. In case you didn’t know, IHG includes brands such as Crowne Plaza™ Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn™ and Hotel Indigo™)


fairmontsouthampton.jpg

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Green Partnership Program
They must have had a crystal ball! With their tagline “because the environment isn’t just something that’s ‘out there’ – it’s where we live work and play each day,” it was in 1990 that Fairmont Hotels & Resorts launched their Green Partnership program – their attempt at reducing their impact on the environment. It consisted of an early guidebook on sustainable best practices in the lodging industry and established a commitment to minimizing its hotels’ impact on the planet as a key component of its operating philosophy.

The program has grown tremendously since then, and continues to focus on improvements in the areas of waste management, energy and water conservation and innovative community outreach programs involving local groups and partnerships. For example, at the Fairmont Southampton, they are protecting the endemic Bermuda cedar through the “Leave It Green” replanting program. The cedars were destroyed by a parasite infestation many years ago. But guests can help bring them back by “adopting” a tree to replant on the hotel grounds or golf course.

Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, Portland Lloyd Center
Meet Oregon’s first sustainable hotel. These guys left no stone unturned and hit every single detail. We’re talking re-usable coffee mugs for the Sales Office, some strict criteria for their food vendors, compostable wooden stir sticks for their in-room coffee program rather than plastic ones and using plants in the landscaping that require very little water and fertilizer.

And the free warm chocolate chip cookie they give you when you check in (also available for purchase at the Starbucks stand downstairs) ain’t too shabby either……..

To find other eco-friendly hotels in your area check out http://www.greenhotels.com or http://www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com

Originally published June 2007
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