Earth Day: Finding true Green and eco-friendly hotels – go LEED green
April 22, 11:35 AMAlbuquerque Travel ExaminerNeala Schwartzberg
It’s easy to for a hotel to call itself Green and eco-friendly. Put in a few compact florescent bulbs, install some low flow shower heads, don’t change sheets daily, and they are “green.” And those efforts are useful. But it’s a lot more difficult to become LEED green. The standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are comprehensive and rigorous.
I’ve even seen green certificates hotels can get by filling out a website report. Huh???
LEED green is different, comprehensive, and tough. USGBC verifies that a building or even a whole community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across the most important measures – energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions reduction, and more.
The LEED process starts at the very beginning with the design phase, and isn’t finished until construction is completed. In fact, it’s so rigorous that obtaining LEED certification for older buildings is considered to be a herculean task (although more and more hotels are opting to do that).
Construction is rated on a point system:
40-49 Points Certified
50–59 Points Silver
60–79 Points Gold
80 + Points Platinum
As an example, let’s take the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, LEED Silver. It has the low water use and low electricity features, but it also uses a refrigerator air system with less water for cooling. There’s motion detection sensors that put the air conditioning system into hibernation when guests leave the room and then restart as soon as they enter. Solar energy is also a key part of their ecological efforts – both thermal and electric. The swimming pools use solar heated water. There’s also a robust recycling program, that sorts the trash into dry and wet waste from the restaurants, casino, and suites. “We’re the largest recycler in the Valley with 45 tons of recyclables a day, out of 70 to 80 tons of waste during peak,” says Nicholas Rumanes, Vice President of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the parent company of The Palazzo, with justifiable pride. Read more about this luxury hotel that’s LEED silver
The challenges in retrofitting a hotel to be LEED green are being undertaken by another luxury hotel, this one is the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale Arizona. The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale is focusing on the big items of hot water and temperature control of guest rooms and meeting spaces. That’s where the environmental costs are, and the potential for the greatest positive impact. Their HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning Systems) control monitoring system is used in meeting spaces and guest rooms. The Hyatt uses a digital set-back thermostat with occupancy sensor to regulate temperature when the rooms are not occupied. Balcony door switches shut down the HVAC system when the outside door is open.
In 2008 the Hyatt Regency installed one of the nation’s largest solar hot water systems to provide hot water for guest rooms, main laundry services and all the restaurants. Solar thermal heating is also being used for their 2.5 acre water playground. Read more about this luxury soon to be LEED green hotel
Next week we’ll be staying and reviewing the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia – it’s LEED registered.
Albuquerque doesn’t have any LEED green hotels, but when we vacation, it is possible to find hotels where we’re going that are truly green. I simply google or bing LEED hotels and the name of the city. From small B&Bs to entire hotel chains. Let’s try to support the hotels that support our planet.