Home Energy Management Water-themed h2hotel Flows with Eco-hip Design, Emphasis on Local Elements

Water-themed h2hotel Flows with Eco-hip Design, Emphasis on Local Elements


HEALDSBURG, CALIF.—The July 4 holiday weekend turned out to be a good time to open for the new water-themed h2hotel in California’s Northern Sonoma Wine Country. The four-story, 36-room hotel sold out—a good sign for the owners of the $19 million property. A collaboration among David Baker + Partners, the architect responsible for the AIA design award-winning Hotel Healdsburg, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, and Marie Fisher and Jen Gadiel Interior Design, h2hotel is primed to earn a  LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Unique in many ways, h2hotel is located within 10 miles of 100 wineries and just a little more than an hour’s drive from San Francisco.

From the very beginning, the project’s developers had sustainability in mind. The hotel was built on the site of a former Chevron station. Circe Sher, marketing director for h2hotel, says some of the soil had to be removed from the site. The new building features an undulating living roof that takes up about 75 percent of the rooftop area. “It has an aesthetic quality, filters water, and provides insulation,” Sher says. The roof adds green space to the property, minimizes the heat island effect and also provides a habitat for local birds, bees and butterflies. Water captured from the roof is stored in cisterns in the basement. That water is then used for a “Spoonfall” water sculpture located in the entry courtyard. The sculpture is made from thousands of espresso spoons.

The façade of the building features local Forest Stewardship Council certified redwood slat screens, which function as shading devices, and Corten steel railings on private balconies. Bike racks are also made from Corten steel. The steel rusts easily, providing a weathered look. At the rear of the property is an outdoor swimming pool that is heated using a solar thermal system. Photovoltaic panels on the roof supply a portion of the hotel’s electricity. The hotel is located adjacent to Foss Creek where a 3,000-square-foot meadow is located. Hotel personnel are working to help to restore the creek by planting native plants with the assistance of Riverkeepers and Trout Unlimited. The proceeds from the sale of stainless steel water bottles at the hotel benefit creek restoration efforts.

Reclaimed, Sustainable Materials

Inside h2hotel, as much reclaimed and sustainable materials and products as possible were used. “A lot of our furniture is made from reclaimed wood,” Sher says. Bed frames and cabinetry are made from reclaimed woods such as American elm, acacia, and black walnut. Guestrooms feature bamboo flooring. Concrete flooring is used in public areas on the first floor. It includes fly ash as an ingredient. The meeting room floor consists of reclaimed gym floor from a gym in Portland, Ore. All textiles, including chemical-free, fair trade Peace Industry wool felt rugs and 100 percent organic cotton linens, are loomed from all-natural fibers. All paints used have no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Custom made water (h2O) bars serving purified sparkling and still water are located on each floor for guests to fill glass water carafes offered in the rooms. Plastic water bottles are not offered to guests.

Low-flow, dual flush toilets help conserve water and a key card-based guestroom energy management system and variable refrigerant volume air-conditioning system help to reduce energy costs. Natural bath amenities are offered to guests and green cleaners are used by housekeepers. In the hotel’s Spoonbar restaurant, local items are emphasized. The restaurant even has a “farm to glass” cocktail program.

In addition to the Spoonfall sculpture mentioned earlier, other art is prevalent throughout the property. “All of the art has an environmental emphasis,” Sher says. Curated by Svea Lin Vezzone of Oakland, California-based Swarm Gallery, h2hotel’s art program highlights original art from Bay Area artists. The hotel’s fireplace is made of bound copper Steinway piano wires illuminated by flame. Oakland art fabricator Leonidas Kyriakopoulos created it. A photographic study of a California live oak printed on glass by Sonoma State University professor Stephen Galloway unfolds into 8-foot sections, one on each floor.

Plenty of Room for Bicyclists

The moderately priced hotel is bicyclist friendly. King beds in guestrooms split into two twin beds. “Part of the reason we opted for the two beds is for the number of bike groups that we have coming through Healdsburg and they often request two beds in a room,” Sher says. “At h2hotel we have loaner bikes designed by Rob Forbes and we also have a bike room with secure bike storage where you can also tune your bike.”

The bright, open lobby features an all-in-one “Receptobar” where guests check in, receive concierge services, and enjoy daytime coffee bar and evening wine bar. The Receptobar is also a mini-bar stocking station and entertainment counter with complimentary DVDs, games and outdoor supplies available to all guests.

Go to the h2hotel.

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