five non blondes

Green Hotels

MGM City Center

     As I mentioned before, I work for the hospitality studio at Gensler and more recently I’ve decided to really set my focus on sustainability within that practice area.  Hotel brands like Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham etc. have a lot of properties around the world and obviously can have a far reaching impact on the environment.  At Gensler, we’re looking to help these types of companies in 3 different ways: 1) Set up sustainability standards that they can implement throughout all their hotels.  This would include basic practices like recycling programs up to more transforming practices like green roofs and water collection systems.  2) Assess existing buildings and let them know what it would take to make them LEED certified 3) Design new LEED certified hotels. 
     The “green wave” has definitely hit the hospitality industry.  You can’t pick up a trade related magazine without it saying something about it.  Most hotels are treading lightly right now, trying to figure out what the return on investment will be for them.  Will customers pay more? Will it build better brand loyalty? Will it lower their operational costs?  They’re paying attention to the trends in the market and we can all help prove to them that green is the way to go by supporting eco-friendly hotels. 
     So, how do you know what makes a green hotel and where do you find them?  There are tons of resources online now.  Google is your friend.  Ecorooms is one group who has set up a very basic list of 7 criteria for an eco-hotel.  It includes everything from high efficiency plumbing fixtures to all recycled paper products.  They’re building a database of hotels that you can search easily.  There aren’t many listed yet, but I’m sure it will be increasing.  Magazines like Travel & Leisure have put together lists of their top green hotels.  Most of the ones in this list are pretty expensive & exotic, but the have some pretty neat features you can read about.  LEED is by far the easiest way right now to classify a sustainable hotel.  If they’re certified, they’ll definitely be advertising it.  LEED certified is the baseline they have to meet and anything above and beyond that will get them a silver, gold, or platinum status.  So far, I believe, gold is the highest that any hotel has reached.  LEED uses a scorecard that focuses on everything from the site for the project, to energy efficiency, material selections, air quality, etc.  The means of classifying green hotels will only get stricter as we perfect the process and it should get easier and easier to find these types of properties to support.  Just remember, you may only be one person, but you have a vote in where the industry is going every time you lay down your credit card.
     The projects pictured are (from the top): MGM city center- slated to be the largest LEED project ever in the US, The Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburg- registered to be LEED silver, and Gaia Hotel in Napa Valley- the world’s first LEED gold hotel.
Rebecca, SF

2 Comments so far
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Congratulations to five blondes for creating this tool available to everybody!!
I just wanted to ask if anybody has worked on a LEED certification for a hotel. I’m currently working on a certification and need some experienced advice. For example the calculation for visitors in a hotel is extremely high and this directly affects the amount of bicycles racks required. It’s a 700,000 sf project with an estimated peak of 7,000 visitors and 700 full time equivalents, giving an assigned number of bicycle racks of 370!!!!! Can anybody help? Thanks!

Comment by Maria Cristina

There’s a CIR (credit interpretations and rulings)for this. You have to allow for employees and “transient” occupants who may arrive by bicycle, but you don’t have to account for all hotel guests. You can look up the CIR’s online. For the number of showers its only based on hotel staff. The ruling is listed here:
You’ll probably have to sign into to the USGBC site to access it.

Comment by 5nonblondes

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