LAS VEGAS—A total of 270 people attended Hospitality Design’s Green Day here at the Sands Expo and Convention Center on Tuesday, May 14. Even more—450—attended the publication’s third annual Green Luncheon, at which environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo provided the keynote speech. The strong turnout was proof that lodging’s design community is eager for green learning and networking opportunities.
Green Day kicked off with a session entitled, “Why Go Green?” Tode Rubenstein, president, Ecodynamix Consulting, Inc., emphasized that green practices are most definitely not a trend. For hoteliers, he said, the benefits to greening operations include cost reductions, increased revenue, greater employee satisfaction, and higher guest loyalty.
“Sustainable design is set to become the norm,” Rubenstein said. “Green design does not mean we have to compromise luxury. There has been the perception that green costs too much but that is not the case. I believe LEED is set to become the accepted green building standard.”
Proximity Hotel Represented
Dennis Quaintance, CEO and CDO (chief design officer) of the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., discussed how his property has benefited from its pursuit of a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The Proximity Hotel is using 41 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than a comparable hotel its size. During construction, 87 percent of construction waste was recycled. Quaintance said he initially budgeted $25,000 for the waste recycling but it ended up costing just $1,600.
In a second session entitled, “Achieving the New Look of Green,” Gary Golla and Lisa Zangerle, both of SERA Architects, talked about some of the misperceptions developers have regarding what needs to be sacrificed when building a green hotel. They also discussed two Portland, Ore. projects they are involved with that are pursuing LEED certification.
Said Golla, regarding the often-thought perception of green: “For projects to achieve green initiatives, design options are limited, quality is compromised, luxury must be sacrificed, and a large cost premium will be incurred. This is not the case.”
Added Golla, regarding the truth about green: “The new look of green is delivering high performance buildings that are environmentally sensitive but still maintain a quality aesthetic. They are designed without compromising the guest experience, the brand’s identity or operations. It is what you expect but only better.”
Advice Based on Experience
Golla offered some advice to developers: “Don’t test green as an add-on. The earlier you begin in the design and development process, the more successful you will be.”
The Nines Hotel in Portland, Ore., is one hotel Sera Architects is working on. Golla said it will be 28 percent more energy efficient and 28 percent more water efficient than a typical hotel its size. The goal is to achieve LEED Silver for The Nines. For another hotel project Sera Architects is part of in Portland, Ore.—a Courtyard by Marriott—LEED Gold is the goal. That property will be 31 percent more energy efficient and 28 percent more water efficient than a comparable hotel its size. Golla provided attendees with a detailed cost analysis of the Courtyard project. After incentives and other cost savings, it will cost developers $98,411 for the LEED work but related operational cost savings will recover that in just 18 months.
Golla’s colleague, Lisa Zangerle, offered this advice to designers and developers: “Choose from the LEED scorecard. You don’t have to do full-blown LEED. It is important to do something.”
A Green, Cultural Shift
Luncheon keynote speaker Danny Seo, founder, Simply Green, discussed some of the consumer trends related to the environment and also offered attendees some advice.
“Green is not trendy; it is a cultural shift,” Seo said. “Target 95 percent of the people who want to live green 5 percent of the time. Middle America is the next boom area for eco-friendly products.”
Green Day wrapped up with breakout roundtable discussions that gave attendees the opportunity to offer suggestions on how to make LEED more amenable to hotels. Marc Heisterkamp, Manager, LEED Corporate/Investment Real Estate Sector, U.S. Green Building Council, says USGBC is currently conducting a needs assessment and has had one meeting so far with industry leaders to discuss how LEED may be updated to better match hotels.
What will make updating LEED for hotels a challenge, Heisterkamp says, are issues related to hotels that are not necessarily found with other types of buildings: light pollution; laundry, kitchen and swimming pool concerns; FF&E; and such things as tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust and daylighting.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.