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Projects Light Years Beyond ‘Low-Hanging’ Fruit

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Glenn Hasek

Utilizing breakthroughs in design and technology, hotel owners and designers around the world are establishing new benchmarks for what it means to be a “dark” green hotel—one that has gone far beyond investing in easy low-hanging fruit.

As published previously on Green Lodging News, Hotel Marcel New Haven, Tapestry Collection by Hilton just opened within the last two weeks in Connecticut. It is believed to be the first net-zero hotel in the United States. It will utilize renewable solar power sources on site to generate the electricity needed for its common areas, restaurant, laundry, meeting rooms and 165 guestrooms and suites. The all-electric hotel operates independent of fossil fuels, resulting in zero carbon emissions. It is also expected to be the first Passive House-certified hotel in the country and will be one of fewer than a dozen LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-certified hotels in the country.

Six Senses Svart

Just posted on Green Lodging News and set to open in 2024 is Norway’s 94-room Six Senses Svart which combines futuristic design and technological innovation with earthy, organic materials that use the least embedded energy. Six Senses Svart will harvest enough solar energy to go back into the system, covering the hotel, adjacent operations, boat shuttle, and the energy needed to construct the building—rendering it independent from the power grid.

It will also be self-sustaining, complete with its own waste and water management, recycling, and renewable infrastructure. The team will work with existing sustainable fishing and farming operations and engage local like-minded suppliers for the restaurants and bars.

“To enhance the vision of Svart, we have established a Net Zero Lab, a vehicle for developing and taking to market the technology created by us in a joint effort with Six Senses to reach the common goal for net-zero travel. This means the guest journey will have zero environmental impact from start to end. The mission is to achieve common ground for all stakeholders pushing the technology to the next level to benefit the resort and the industry at large,” said Jan-Gunnar Mathisen, CEO of the project’s owner and developer.

As a center for engagement and innovation, the Earth Lab will serve as the sustainability outreach space, showcasing “lifecycle living” initiatives on and off the property. There will also be a Svart Design Lab, which will act as an incubator for innovation and education, for guests to understand how new technologies can bring the sector closer to carbon neutrality as part of a cradle-to-cradle hospitality offering.

Downtown Denver’s Populous

As reported in Surface Magazine, construction has started on Populus, a carbon positive hotel designed by Studio Gang in downtown Denver. The 265-room property, set to open next year, was reported to be the country’s first carbon positive hotel thanks to sustainable construction and a substantial ecological effort offsite that involves planting trees across 5,000 acres of forest.

According to Surface, “The facade ripples with distinctive windows informed by Colorado’s native Aspen trees and will be built using low-carbon concrete mixes and high-recycled content materials. Sloped ‘lids’ over each window extend outward to shade the building’s interior, improving energy performance while neatly channeling rainwater to keep the facade looking pristine. It’s also located on the former site of Colorado’s first gas station and will become Denver’s first new-build hotel that lacks on-site parking.”

A green roof terrace planted with regional vegetation offers extensive views at the building’s top, providing a lush place to socialize and attractive habitat for local wildlife and insects.

The room2 Chiswick Hotel

Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom, Project Orange recently completed London’s 86-key room2 Chiswick Hotel. This “hometel”, the property’s website says, “is the world’s first whole life net zero hometel, meaning that all the carbon emissions from conception through to end-of-life have been reduced and rebalanced to zero. room2 Chiswick is set to be 89 percent more efficient than your average hotel, allowing you to make conscious decisions, even when traveling.”

“For our unavoidable emissions, we calculate our footprint and offset with our nature based reforesting partner in Nicaragua,” the website adds.

Ultra-low flow showers give the full impact of a power shower, but with around 40 percent less water. To heat and cool the building heat pumps go 200 meters below the hometel. The loops extract heat energy from the earth and draw it to the heating and water system. This also works in reverse. Solar panels on the roof power about 5 percent of the annual energy demand, which is enough to run the bar and lounge lighting and heating.

room2 Chiswick has two lab rooms, which learns over the long run how guests use the rooms. It tracks everything from energy, appliances, lighting and heating, water, and air quality, so the hometel can get better and drive down energy further.

The green roof promotes biodiversity, improves insulation for the building and provides a home for insects and bugs. Under the ‘green’ roof is a ‘blue’ roof. It catches and retains up to 50,000L of rainwater, slowly releasing it to the drainage system to reduce the chances of local flooding.

room2 Chiswick has a zero-waste policy, where nothing will end up in landfill. All waste is recycled or turned into energy.

Guests are accompanied by 75,000 bees living on the roof, supporting biodiversity in the area, and in the process making unique, local honey.

Red Sea Project Adds Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Finally, on May 23 Marriott reported that it had signed an agreement with the Red Sea Development Co. to bring the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve to the Middle East. The Red Sea Project is an ambitious regenerative tourism project, covering 28,000 square kilometers on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, of which less than one percent will be developed. The destination is expected to offer a new type of barefoot luxury experience and is being developed with the highest standards of sustainability. The development features an archipelago of more than 90 untouched natural islands, as well as dormant volcanoes, sweeping desert dunes, mountains, and wadis, and more than 1,600 cultural heritage sites. Search “Red Sea” on Green Lodging News to learn much more about the Red Sea Project.

It is great to see so many companies setting new benchmarks for sustainable development. Globally, there is much more of great interest going on. This is just a sample of some of the projects on the cutting-edge.

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