Home Air Quality LEED Platinum Hotel at Oberlin Readies for May Soft Opening

LEED Platinum Hotel at Oberlin Readies for May Soft Opening


OBERLIN, OHIO—One of the world’s most innovative green hotels—The Hotel at Oberlin—is just one month away from its soft opening in Oberlin, Ohio. The hotel is owned by Oberlin College and eventually will qualify for the rare LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 70-room Hotel at Oberlin is the first LEED Platinum hotel owned by a college and anchors the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, the cornerstone of Oberlin’s Green Arts District, an ongoing development conceived by the city and college to transform Oberlin into a model for environmentally aware economic development based on education and the arts.

The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center also includes a conference center, commercial and office space, jazz club, and restaurant that features locally grown and sourced fare. The name of the restaurant, 1833, honors the year the college and town of Oberlin were founded.

“Our path to LEED Platinum is based on energy efficiency more than anything else,” says Christopher Noble, Project Developer, SMART Hotels LLC. The Hotel at Oberlin features a hydronic radiant heating and cooling system tied to a geothermal system. There are 48 geothermal wells, each 405 feet deep, surrounding the property. There is LED lighting throughout the hotel.

“It is fair to say we are solar powered as well,” Noble says. During the planning stages for the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, a nearby solar array was built. The energy from that array helps power the Center.

Windows in Guestrooms & Public Spaces Will Open

Indoor air quality will be a focus. Guests will be able to open the windows in their guestrooms. Windows in public spaces also will open. Ceiling fans will help distribute air. “One of the benefits of a hydronic system is there is very little moving air in the building,” Noble says. “We provide the needed ventilation. We won’t have to worry about sick building syndrome.”

“From a water efficiency standpoint, everything is low-flow,” Noble says, adding that there also will be a 30,000 gallon cistern on property for the collection of rainwater. That water primarily will be used for irrigation. The hotel has been designed with recycling and composting in mind.

Many of the materials for the hotel have been locally sourced. Wood from a dismantled 19th century farmhouse outside of town is being incorporated into the hotel’s design by local Mennonite carpenters. Oberlin College purchased the house and had it dismantled. Some of the wooden furniture is being handcrafted locally by Amish carpenters.

Maya Lin Art Installation

A permanent three-part installation in the lobby and exterior by Ohio-born artist Maya Lin (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) is underway and will be finished in the coming months. The installation will be focused on the local climate and landscape, the final part of her “Ohio Trilogy.”

The Hotel at Oberlin is the result of a process that began almost five years ago, Noble says. It was then when the college’s board of trustees decided to move forward with the new hotel instead of investing in renovation of the Oberlin Inn, which had been a part of the community since the founding of Oberlin College.

The hotel is part of phase one of a larger project. Phase two will include a 15,000 square foot wing that houses the college’s admissions office and classroom space. The project will not officially receive its Platinum certification until after the completion of phase two.

The Hotel at Oberlin will have its official opening in September 2016.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.