Who Says It Ain't Easy Being Green?
By Timothy E. Osiecki President of Design & Construction, Concord Hospitality Enterprises | May 04, 2014
With all due respect to my favorite Muppet, being green has never been easier. Whether its single stream recycling hitting your neighborhood or building and operating greener hotels, green is the new black when it comes to colors that make everything appear slimmer.
Some of my colleagues in the hotel industry will likely insist that green development fattens the cost of construction, but frankly, the argument is as old and out-of-date as the mullet some of us sported in the 70s. Truth be told, green building practices and attaining LEED certification is reasonably easy, cost effective, forward thinking and simply the right thing to do.
In 2008, we at Concord Hospitality Enterprises had heard the concerns about incremental costs of construction and apathetic consumers who were unwilling to pay more for a green hotel room. Being socially-responsible and contrarian by nature, we forged ahead and built our first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) project, the Settler's Ridge Courtyard by Marriott in Pittsburgh, Pa., Indeed, it did cost an additional $500,000 to build, and, yes, we stubbed our toe a few times in the process. However, the annual savings quickly exceeded our expectations, so we persevered to figure out how to minimize cost and decided to build only LEED-certified hotels going forward. We expect to open five LEED-designed hotels this year and have another nine in the pipeline for 2015 for a total construction spend that is approaching $500 million dollars.
Five years after our first LEED hotel, sustainability is as much a part of our company's culture as any of our other cornerstones.
Since that first hotel, we've made it our mandate to figure out how to make LEED-designed hotels more affordable. Working in tandem with Marriott, our Settlers Ridge Courtyard provided the design template for Marriott's Volume Build prototypes that take much of the cost and brain damage out of LEED design for others. Now developers can attain LEED certification for about $350,000 over the cost of conventional prototypes.
But why bother? Why spend more? Does LEED certification mean anything to customers?