To verify green operations in existing buildings, numerous certification programs are available to owners of lodging establishments. I have written about most of them over the past few years. For new construction, however, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system has quickly become the gold standard. According to USGBC, LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Platinum is the highest level of certification, followed by Gold, Silver and Certified.
When first launching Green Lodging News in mid-2006, there were just a few hotel properties LEED certified. Today, according to USGBC, there are 31 lodging establishments that have earned that honor: one Platinum, nine Gold, 12 Silver, and nine Certified. No hotel company currently has more than two certified. The state with the most certified hotels is California with eight. Oregon and Washington are next with three and then Georgia and Michigan with two.
There are currently 869 hotel projects LEED registered. Two projects were registered in 2001, four in 2004, 14 in 2005, 20 in 2006, 74 in 2007, 132 in 2008, and 623 so far this year. As you can see, there has been quite an explosion in interest in LEED—primarily in the past two years. While the list of registered hotels that was sent to me by USGBC does not include the names of every property, a quick scan shows a strong presence by the following companies: Starwood, Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, and Hyatt, with some InterContinental and Best Western representation. These are the companies one would expect to see on the list. Large companies with little representation so far: Carlson, Choice and Accor. I would not count those companies out for long.
Many Opportunities to Learn More
Learning about LEED has become a lot easier over the past several years. The USGBC website has a wealth of information, more than 130,000 industry professionals have earned LEED credentials, and USGBC chapters located all over the United States make it easy to get involved and learn. The granddaddy of all USGBC events—Greenbuild—will be held in Phoenix next month from November 11 to 13. It will include more than 100 educational sessions. Last year Greenbuild drew more than 28,000 attendees and included 800 exhibit booths. This year’s event will feature more than 1,700 exhibitors. I have attended Greenbuild twice in the past and highly recommend it. This year’s keynote speaker will be Vice President Al Gore and Sheryl Crow will perform at the opening celebration.
According to USGBC, “buildings in the United States are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent water consumption and 15 percent of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.”
It is exciting to see so many hotel developers taking an interest in LEED.
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