Hoteliers Discuss the Benefits of Having LEED Certification

By Lawrence Adams Principal, ForrestPerkins | October 06, 2013

Green building efforts in the hospitality industry have almost doubled since 2011 with 48% of new construction projects expected to benefit from sustainable building practices in 2013, according to a recent study, the Green Retail and Hospitality SmartMarket Report, conducted by McGraw Hill Construction. Compared to other building types, hotels have historically been major energy users. Hotels' large carbon footprints have been, in part, due to their extended hours of operation including the need to keep lights burning in public spaces and corridors day and night. Hotels also generate a lot of waste that ultimately translates to energy usage. Attracted by significant decreases in operating costs and energy consumption, investments in green technology, while sometimes costly, ultimately pay off with an increase in return on investment, which results in an increase in asset value. Seventy percent of hotel guests appreciate staying in hotels that have environmentally responsible features and programs, according to the study.

We contacted three hotel stakeholders across the country-the owner of an urban resort, the managing director of a major downtown convention hotel and the senior vice president of a specialty select brand focused on sustainability-and asked each to discuss the benefits of his hotel's LEED certification.

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Photograph by Skott Snider, courtesy of Shore Hotel
The LEED Gold certified Shore Hotel was designed to permit natural lighting to penetrate the rooms and lobby as much as possible. A Green Concierge at the hotel helps explain the many eco-friendly features throughout the property and suggests nearby sustainable attractions.

The Shore Hotel

The Shore Hotel, a 164-key eco-urban resort in Santa Monica, California, is located on Ocean Avenue, near the Santa Monica Pier. Designed by Gensler Architects, the contemporary hotel's unique configuration includes a four-story U-shaped building surrounding a pool and a patio shaded by an overhead steel-trussed trellis. An L-shaped guest room section in the rear is connected by a three-level sky bridge. Each guest room includes a private balcony facing the ocean. The hotel, owned by the Farzam Family, has consistently been ranked the No. 1 hotel in Santa Monica by TripAdvisor and it was the first newly built hotel property in Santa Monica to be LEED Gold certified. To make room for the hotel on the site, the Farzams demolished two existing hotels they owned, the Pacific Sands and Travelodge. Dedicated to protecting the environment, the family recycled construction waste material in building the new hotel. We spoke with Steve Farzam, owner and chief operating officer of the Shore Hotel, about the project's sustainable features and the benefits of its LEED certification.

What made you decide to pursue LEED certification for your new hotel?

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.