Making the Case for 'Active' Building Design

by Glenn Hasek May 19, 2011 03:36

During Green Day at the Hospitality Design Exposition & Conference this week in Las Vegas, one of the speakers--Lauren Yarmuth, principal, YRG Sustainability--mentioned something called "Active Design Guidelines." Are you familiar with these?" Early in 2010, a group of city government agencies in New York City, from the Department of Design and Construction to the Office of Management and Budget, teamed up with the Amercian Institute of Architects to create these guidelines. The guidelines were created to help promote more physical activity among the citizenry in new and renovated building projects. The thinking is that too many buildings have been designed to accommodate the lazy inclinations of people. In her presentation, Yarmuth cited hotel stairways as an example.

Typically, stairways are hidden--something guests would only use if there were an emergency. I never thought of it that way but Yarmuth was right; we have been conditioned to use elevators. In a country where obesity is at epidemic proportions, perhaps we should be designing hotels that encourage more physical activity? It can start with positioning stairways more prominently in hotel lobby areas. It is not just stairways that the Guidelines address, however, but outdoor spaces as well. Walking paths, for example, can be designed to be more interesting--to draw you in and make you curious. Park-like settings encourage people to explore. I recently visited a Home2 Suites property in Fayetteville, N.C. that had a walking path around the perimeter of the property. A great idea. In thinking about what makes a lodging establishment green, I had never really thought about whether or not its design should encourage or discourage physical activity and exploration. It is only logical that it should. Perhap it is time for Active Design Guidelines to be part of green lodging/building certification programs? Your thoughts? 


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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at or by phone at (813) 510-3868.