September 2007 Archives

Greenhouse26, New York

Greenhouse 26, the first green boutique hotel in New York City, will open at 132 W. 26th St. in Spring 2008. Blending first-class amenities with progressive environmental initiatives, Greenhouse 26 will apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status, establishing that hotels of all sizes can be successfully green.

Sustainability has been an integral part of the development and design process for developers Jack Ancona, who has been in the New York City real estate industry for over 50 years, and Flatiron Real Estate Advisors LLC. With the belief that outstanding design is inherently green, the 27-room hotel will marry contemporary decor with LEED Gold-standard conservation of energy, electricity, water, materials and waste.

Pioneering the use of geothermal energy, Greenhouse 26 will be the first hotel in New York City to utilize a geothermal heating and cooling system. The 19-story building is the ideal size for this technology, which requires a 1,500-foot-deep underground well for every six to 10 stories. Energy and cost savings are estimated at 40 percent.

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Hlton Vancouver Washington

Located at the heart of revitalized downtown Vancouver, Washington, the brand-new 226-room Hilton Vancouver is the city's new meeting place for visitors and residents alike, offering upscale amenities, a new restaurant, stylish accommodations, and extensive convention and event facilities. With an eye toward the well-being of hotel guests as well as the local community, all of these features are wrapped up in an eco-friendly design that maximizes sustainability while minimizing impact on the environment. The hotel is currently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is, according to the architects, scheduled to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating after completion, which would make it the first LEED certified major hotel in the country.

The new Hilton Vancouver, Washington faces the redesigned Esther Short Park, with its extensive green space and facilities for public gatherings, and is across the street from the Vancouver Farmers Market, which draws an average of 8,000 visitors each weekend day to downtown Vancouver. The hotel is also near a recently-developed, pedestrian-friendly community of shops, cafes, offices and housing. Nearby scenic attractions are ideal for day trips.

The Hilton Vancouver, Washington is owned by the City of Vancouver, Washington, and managed by Beverly Hills-based Hilton Hotels Corporation (NYSE:HLT).

"The new Hilton Vancouver, Washington perfectly embodies the reinvigorated essence of the Hilton brand, just as it provides a centerpiece for the thriving new downtown of Vancouver," said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, Hilton Brand Management, Hilton Hotels Corporation. "We expect to see this new hotel become a much-valued resource for its eco-friendly design, legendary Hilton hospitality, attractive guestrooms and functional meeting facilities."

DESIGNED WITH "GREEN" IN MIND

Designed by the Portland, Oregon architecture firm of Fletcher Farr Ayotte, the hotel's design features glass canopies at the entrance, a two-story lobby, a grand staircase, and large windows in the lobby, restaurant and bar overlooking the park. The design visually integrates itself into the neighborhood environment, and a warm, neutral color palette was chosen for the interior. The interior spaces establish a Northwest theme through the use of local, handcrafted artisan lamps in the hallways and meeting rooms, and natural, long-lasting materials including brick and stone.

Beneath the handsome facade is a myriad of sustainable design strategies, including sensors that adjust the climate control systems when rooms and hallways are vacant, a heat-reflecting roof, water-efficient landscaping, and guestrooms with operable windows for maximum comfort and flow of fresh air. In order to support the community, local vendors were used wherever possible.

FEATURES AND AMENITIES

Guestrooms are equipped with the luxurious Hilton Serenity Bed and the Hilton Serenity Bath Collection, which features hair and skincare products from Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source line of spa-quality products. Other features in each room include two 2-line phones with voicemail, minibar and coffeemaker, a large ergonomic desk with executive chair, and a 27" high-definition flat screen TV. The seventh floor has been designed with deluxe accommodations, providing extra amenities, such as bathrobes, complimentary bottled water in addition to upgraded furnishings with crown molding and larger work desks. Ten upgraded rooms on the third floor feature generous patios overlooking Esther Short Park, and 10 suites graciously welcome guests with added space and comfort.

The hotel's restaurant, Gray's At The Park, is a Northwest Bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, featuring regional dishes and Washington wines. The menu will draw heavily from produce available at the Vancouver Farmers Market across the street. The cozy bar features a fireplace and comfortable seating.

When it's time to revive and rejuvenate, guests will enjoy the indoor heated swimming pool and a cutting edge fitness center featuring Nautilus equipment. In addition to the hotel's fitness center, guests can check out a Hilton Travel Fit Kit, an in-room mini gym designed by Bally Total Fitness.

Guests will have access to all features expected in a Hilton hotel, including top-notch service and a helpful concierge desk that can assist them in achieving an enjoyable, productive stay.

A wide array of meetings and events can easily be accommodated in 30,000 square feet of function space, including two ballrooms and nine meeting rooms. A complete conference services staff and audio/visual team will ensure attention to every detail. Business travelers will be able to maintain productivity using the high-speed wireless internet available throughout the hotel and the new, technologically advanced self-service business center that is being rolled out across the Hilton brand.

VISITING VANCOUVER

Vancouver, Washington boasts significant cultural and historic attractions, including the Pearson Air Museum, situated on the nation's oldest operating airfield; the Fort Vancouver National Historic site, which was once the center of political, cultural and commercial activities of the Pacific Northwest; several wineries and Uptown Village, where visitors can step back in time on upper Main Street and visit antique and gift shops, restaurants and boutiques.

Nearby scenic attractions are perfect for day trips, including the Pacific Coast less than 90 miles to the west, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mt. Hood less than two hours away. The spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area lies 30 minutes to the east. In summary, Vancouver, Washington combines the excitement of a major metropolitan area with small-town charm and abundant recreational opportunities.

Travelers staying at this hotel have the opportunity to participate in the Hilton HHonors(R) guest reward program, allowing guests to earn both hotel points and airline miles for the same stay at more than 2,700 hotels worldwide.

GETTING THERE

The Hilton Vancouver, Washington is the area's premier new full-service hotel. The hotel is 10 minutes from downtown Portland, Oregon, and 12 miles from Portland International Airport. The address is 301 West 6th Street, Vancouver, Washington, 98660. Phone: (360) 993-4500. For more information or to make reservations, contact Hilton Reservations Worldwide at 1 (800) 445-8667 or visit www.hilton.com.

Hilton Hotels Corporation is recognized internationally as a preeminent hospitality company. The company develops, owns, manages or franchises approximately 2,300 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its portfolio includes many of the world's best known and most highly regarded hotel brands, including Hilton(R), Conrad(R), Doubletree(R), Embassy Suites Hotels(R), Hampton Inn(R), Hampton Inn & Suites(R), Hilton Garden Inn(R), Hilton Grand Vacations Club(R) and Homewood Suites by Hilton(R).

HILTON VANCOUVER WASHINGTON "GREEN" FACT SHEET

The Hilton Vancouver, Washington integrates some of the most advanced environmentally-friendly features found in the hotel industry today. The hotel is currently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is scheduled to receive a LEED rating after completion, which would make it the first LEED certified major hotel in the country. According to the architecture firm of Fletcher Farr Ayote, there are several key energy-saving and waste-reducing strategies implemented in the hotel's design and construction, listed below.

Reduced energy use: Alternative fueling stations are available for electric cars. Minimal parking spaces will be provided, encouraging employees to find alternative methods of transportation to work. Additionally, the Hilton Vancouver, Washington will run on 30 percent less energy than local codes require. C02 sensors recognize when people have left rooms and hallways that aren't in use and turn off the heating and cooling system. Administrative offices are also equipped with sensors that turn off the lights when the offices are not in use.

Stormwater management: The property's landscaping uses local native plants that need little water during the area's long, dry summer season. Stormwater from the building is funneled to underground dry wells, which provide a natural filtering mechanism for the pollutants that have accumulated on the roof or around the building.

Fighting the urban heat island effect: A white reflective roof on top of the hotel helps it dissipate heat and reflect it back into space, rather than adding to the heat island effect that can afflict urban areas.

Interiors: All guest rooms will have operable windows to allow fresh air into the building and control indoor pollutants. Many of the building materials, including steel and particle board, were purchased from local vendors within 500 miles of the hotel. Interior paint, carpet and carpet glue are low-emissions materials, meaning that they emit few of the hazardous chemicals that traditional paints and carpets do.

Green construction practices: Seventy-five percent of the construction waste from the hotel was recycled. The building was constructed with recycled steel and recyclable brick.

Eco-Boutique Hotel Terra Jackson Hole

roving that luxury and sustainability can join forces with unprecedented results, Hotel Terra will open in Jackson Hole this winter season. The first in a collection of green hotels launched by the Terra Resort Group, Hotel Terra will offer the exceptional amenities and services expected from boutique hotels, combined with environmentally sustainable building and operating practices.

Green practices include Hotel Terra’s pending LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which will put it in an elite group of just five LEED-certified hotels in the United States.

The 72 room, six-story Hotel Terra is a condominium hotel property built on a half acre site, slope side to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, within Bridger Teton National Forest, and at the gateway to Grand Teton National Park. While firmly dedicated to protecting these spectacular natural surroundings, Hotel Terra also possesses the traits of leading boutique hotels: sophisticated design, superior service, thoughtful amenities, and up-to-date technology. This ‘eco-boutique’ approach will drive the hotel collection as it grows, with each new property focused on minimal environmental impact and an extraordinary guest experience. By 2015, Terra Resort Group hopes to create between 12 and 15 Hotel Terra properties in resort locations worldwide.

The design of Hotel Terra is inspired by the stunning natural landscapes of Jackson Hole and its welcoming western sensibility, while also incorporating modern materials, clean lines, and urban touches. Indigenous products in a modern application, such as rough hewn lumber with steel detailing, granite stonework lit by fanciful light fixtures, and a flagstone fireplace set against a wall of deep red leather tiles, demonstrate the fusion of old and new. The property’s atmosphere resonates with health and relaxation, with better air quality, ample natural lighting, and thermal comfort created through environmentally conscious design.

Fairmont's Green Guide

TORONTO—As an environmental ambassador and industry pioneer in responsible tourism practices and sustainable hotel management, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts announced it has launched the third edition of its acclaimed Green Partnership Guide, a comprehensive how-to text for companies looking to “green” their operations.

The ultimate source for companies looking to introduce or expand their green policies, the latest edition of Fairmont’s authoritative manual once again opens the vault on the brand’s environmental best practices. Forwarded by world-renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki, the Green Partnership Guide focuses on key areas such as energy management, water conservation, and innovative community outreach programs, while also providing detailed insights on how to start, maintain and grow an environmental program, including case studies on reducing operating costs, keeping employees motivated and tracking cost savings.

With fundamental issues such as climate change and other environmental concerns top-of-mind with businesses and consumers alike, Chris Cahill, Fairmont’s President and COO, believes the book’s launch is a timely and significant event.

“It is my firm belief that hotels, or all companies for that matter, need to be aware of how their activity is impacting our planet and ways in which they can minimize their footprint,” Cahill says. “For close to two decades now, Fairmont has actively supported environmentally sound business practices. With heightened awareness and responsible tourism now a mainstream topic, we encourage others to learn from our experience in this area and proactively move to green their operations.”

Providing support for Fairmont’s industry leading efforts is Hadley Archer, Director, Business Engagement for WWF-Canada.

“Corporations have an environmental footprint, and so they have the responsibility to take action to lower that footprint,” Archer says. “Fairmont’s Green Partnership Guide is an excellent example of a practical and meaningful solution to help companies lower their impact on the environment, and at the same time, generate cost savings and boost employee morale. By preparing this guide, Fairmont is showing corporate leadership in taking steps to address issues such as waste reduction and global warming.”

Lodging Certification Programs

Nevada certainly could benefit from a statewide program. Las Vegas alone has more than 125,000 hotel rooms open and tens of thousands more under development. I am surprised that states such as Oregon, Washington and Colorado have not initiated their own programs. Whose responsibility is it? In some states, it is a function of the Department of Environmental Protection. In others, programs have grown out of waste management or energy offices. The bottom line is that someone in each state needs to champion the idea, gather other interested parties and come up with a plan.

Ideally, a state green lodging certification program should require an annual on-site audit. It is understandable that this may not always be possible because of funding issues but an on-site audit does add credibility to a program. The organization running a program should also run a first rate website to provide helpful information and to help market program participants. Initial qualification requirements should be kept at a moderate level to encourage participation. After the first year, hotels should be required to improve their programs annually.

Those states that build strong programs will have a competitive advantage when trying to attract government business. Earlier this year, the EPA announced that hotels hosting its functions would have to prove that they have certain types of environmental programs in place. The General Services Administration, which has a much greater impact on government employee travel, announced that it will also screen for green programs. We all know there are many factors that come into play when a meeting planner is planning a meeting. I would like to think, however, that in the years ahead, those states that have strong green lodging programs will be the first to come to mind.

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The Meaning of Green

The Hilton Portland & Executive Tower in Oregon meets the Green Seal standard; cards issued by the "Green" Hotels Association; a hotel chair by Furnature, billed as organic and chemical-free. As more hotels try to become more environmentally friendly, in part to satisfy customers they say are increasingly demanding it, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory cluttered with "green" products and hype -- but without many reliable guideposts for what's effective.

Major corporations including Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. are studying options as they make decisions on far-reaching environmental initiatives intended to appeal to consumers with a conscience -- and at the same time save on water, energy and waste, without downgrading the quality of service.

Some hotels have turned to established programs in their efforts to go green. Marriott, for example, in 2001 joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, which has given it public recognition for using lower-energy flourescent lighting and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Marriott touts its accomplishments on its Web site under the heading "Green Marriott."

A handful of hotels have gotten certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit group in Washington that grades commercial buildings on areas such as water efficiency, energy use, building materials and indoor air quality. Among them are a Hilton in Vancouver, Wash., and a Marriott at the University of Maryland. But the standards aren't designed specifically for hotels, and retrofitting older hotels to qualify can be prohibitively expensive.

Among other options, Starwood is considering getting certification for its first Element hotel, scheduled to open next July in Lexington, Mass. Depending on what's decided, green measures could add 2% to 4% to the planned $16 millon budget for the hotel, Mr. Lakas estimates.

Green Seal, another non-profit organization in Washington, has an extensive certification program for hotels and motels. The evaluation takes up to three months and costs from $1,950 to $3,000 annually, depending on the size of the hotel. Only 43 hotels nationwide have the certification. The group says interest is picking up, and it is hoping to have another 20 hotels in Chicago certified by this fall.

The "Green" Hotels Association, a Houston-based professional group that charges hotels $100-$750 a year to join, offers a list of approved vendors for products including water-saving toilets and chlorine alternatives. But they aren't vetted beyond a requirement that they send company literature explaining how the product is green. "We take their word for it," says Patty Griffin, president and founder of the association, which has also since 1993 sold a cards to hotels that nudge guests to reuse towels.

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Green Hotels of the future

Fifty of the most environmentally friendly places to stay and use for conferences and events in Britain have been identified by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

A range of independently owned and corporate establishments from the south coast of England to the Highlands of Scotland share the honours in the first register of its kind.

The establishments are all holders of the coveted Gold Award as presented by the Green Tourism Business Scheme to those companies across the country that have demonstrated a firm commitment to safeguarding the environment and promoting sustainable tourism.

The Gold List was compiled by a team of independent assessors, who individually verified each establishment’s green credentials before granting it the highest possible grading.

Recipients of the award have to achieve a minimum standard from more than 120 separate measures, ranging from best management practice and energy saving to buying local produce and caring for wildlife and the landscape.

“This is more than just a list; it is a sign of the future as more people are demanding that hotels have to be environmentally aware,” said Andrea Nicholas, director of The Green Tourism Business Scheme. “Our assessors visited every hotel on the list and verified their claims to be green. We are delighted that so many places want to win the highest accolade – a Gold Award. Many others have achieved Bronze or Silver. These hotels are pioneering the way.”

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Value of Green Hotels

As president of Atman Hospitality, Wen-I Chang built the first LEED Gold-certified hotel project in the US, the 133-room Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in American Canyon, CA. The project opened in November of last year. Chang said that constructing the Napa Valley property to LEED Gold standards added about 15% to the development costs. However, he noted that he has a second project now under construction in which the premium to build with environmentally friendly specifications will be between 6% and 8%.

Gary Golla, an associate with the Portland, OR-architecture firm SERA, said he has seen two studies on the issue. One said the cost to go green increases construction costs by 5%, while another says it has no significant impact. Therefore, he said the cost probably falls between those two estimates. The expense, he added, further depends on the level of LEED certification the building aspires to and where the project is being constructed. His firm is currently involved in the development of two hotels in Portland--the 331-room the Nines, part of the Starwood Luxury Collection, and 256-key Courtyard by Marriott--using green principals. Golla pointed that Oregon has “great incentives” to go green.

Carbon Neutral Travel

Virtuoso - the industry’s leading leisure travel network – recently began the process of greening its annual Travel Mart Conference, and concurrently announced STI as its partner in sustainability. The Virtuoso network is comprised of more than 6,000 elite travel specialists associated with over 300 agencies in 22 countries, as well as more than 1,000 of the world's best travel providers and a number of premier destinations.

Virtuoso worked with STI to offset conference-related carbon emissions, which represented one of the largest travel and tourism industry events to attain 'carbon neutral' status. 'Carbon neutral' represents the point at which greenhouse gas emissions have been identified, measured, reduced where possible and 100 percent of the remaining emissions have been offset through high quality renewable energy, energy efficiency and or reforestation projects.

Specifically, through an investment in STI's carbon offset portfolios, Virtuoso offset 4,757 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that were generated by 2,700 attendees’ domestic and international flights, hotel stays, and ground transportation, as well as conference related electricity consumption. The contribution is being invested in renewable energy projects based in North America and renewable energy and energy efficiency projects based on Africa and Asia – all of which are verified and or certified by independent third parties – and double as community development projects that contribute to local communities and environments.

STI is now working with the Virtuoso network in educating their Members and Suppliers about how to support sustainable tourism and integrate related business practices into their operations, including developing and supporting best environmental and cultural preservation practices.

STI helps Quintess, The Leading Residences of the World, go Green

Through its partnership with The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. (LHW), Quintess, Leading Residences of the World (LRW) is now supporting the company's recently launched Leading Green Initiative.

Through STI, Quintess, LRW will directly absorb the cost to offset members' energy consumption in each of the Club's 60+ properties worldwide. Through this, Quintess, LRW will contribute funds to renewable energy programs that will prevent an equal amount of carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere around the globe. In doing so, Quintess has taken a leadership position as one of the first destination clubs to proactively support responsible tourism and sustainable travel, as well as to help protect the environments their members visit.

In calculating LRW’s carbon footprint, STI looked at the total carbon emissions associated with the internal operations of each home, including:

Home electricity consumption expressed in monthly kilowatt-hours or megawatt-hours
Square footage of common areas
Total number of rooms
Average occupancy rates
Estimated total number of guests annually
This is a great start in going green. STI is looking forward to working with LHW and Quintess, LRW to help them integrate additional first best solutions to reduce climate impact.

Survey: 84% Of Travellers Will Consider Offsetting Emissions

A new global survey by Lonely Planet in their annual Travellers’ Pulse survey shows that travelers world wide are concerned about their travel impacts on the climate and will support neutralizing their travel related emissions through legitimate offset programs. The survey, which polled over 24,500 people worldwide, “showed 84 percent of respondents said they would consider offsetting their emissions in the future, where only 31 percent had done so in the past. Seventy percent of travellers said they had purposefully travelled in a low-impact way in the past, (for example, catching a bus rather than flying) and over 90 percent of people said they would or might do so in the future.” Read more here.

As an industry green leader, we find this interesting for the airline industry as well as potentially impacted destinations. As such, STI is actively supporting industry specific leaders in climate mitigation activities, such as more fuel efficient aircraft, design improvements, and aggressive customer offset initiatives. More to come on that in the near future!

Green Stays

“Green” hotels are sprouting up all over, using their green-ness, eco-friendliness, and assorted varieties of organic shade grown coffees as a new way to lure visitors. Their sincerity to be kind to the Earth is often as thin as the newspaper slid under the door each morning. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, on the other hand, is not one to follow trends, but to make conscientious changes. I found their efforts to be more than sincere.

Fairmont is no “enviro-poseur.” Its “Green Teams” have been at work since 1990, when its Canadian resorts began the "Green Partnership," a chain-wide commitment to minimize environmental impact. Since the inception, the program has stretched to all of the hotel's locations worldwide, focusing on waste reduction, resource conservation, habitat and species protection and community connections.

Here are some amazing things I learned. Did you know that, on average, a typical hotel guest produces more than 2 lbs. of waste each day? Or, how about the fact that a single hotel room soaks up 218 gallons of water every day? Fairmont has written the book on sustainable practices in the lodging industry…literally. Their Green Partnership handbook is used today by hospitality companies around the world, who are trying to implement sustainable practices.

But with all of this “greening,” what has remained consistent is luxury of all the hotels and resorts. Most of the changes are not even visible to the guests. So, when you are brushing your teeth, know that the bathroom has been cleaned with biodegradable non-toxic cleaning products, the lights are shining via compact florescent bulbs and the toilets are low-flow. You can even choose to reuse those wet towels you left on the floor, if you wish. And, not all the changes are inside the hotels. The Fairmont's golf courses participate in the "Greening our Greens” program. Through this, the resorts have been able to minimize pesticide use and encourage local wildlife to roam freely on the greens. Just imagine lining up your putt as an elk struts on by!

Fairmont’s philosophy and mission is that luxury and eco-consciousness can co-exist beautifully. And co-exist they do in each and every one of its hotels and resorts all over the world. So play golf at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, wine taste at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, ski at the Fairmont Banff Springs, go on safari at the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club or lay on the beach at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui. Or, just stay at a Fairmont hotel in any major city. Fairmont is doing its part for the environment in a huge way and we should too. Let’s see…supporting the environment by staying in a five star luxury hotel…hmmm…tough, but someone’s got to do it!

Green Hotel Trend Keeps Spreading

We like that they quickly run through the half-hearted efforts, like putting a little placard up asking guests to reuse their towels, and quickly get to some practices that take real effort. We're still a little grossed out by the waterless urinals at The Colony Resort and Cabana Club, but we do like their idea of using recycled carpet squares instead of wall-to-wall. "When one square wears out, detach, recycle and replace it, without throwing out the whole rug." Owner and manager Jestena Boughton also reuses sheets that have gotten a rip, turning them into curtains or pillowcases.

In wealthy Palm Beach County, The Colony Hotel (above) and the Breakers Palm Beach have both earned a "Green Lodging Certification" from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In downtown Miami, the Four Seasons and InterContinental have gotten the nod.

Kudos to Rick Hawkins, The Breakers' director of materials management, who puts it all in language that the Wall Street Journal editorial page readers can understand. "If we don't do things to save the planet, our lovely historic hotel is going to be a dive site one day. And everything we've done boosts profitability. The return on investment long-term is huge."

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Hotels check in to being green

Kona Village in Hawaii is over the top when it comes to recycled materials. The roofs of its restaurant, fitness center and bungalows are made from the dried fronds of coconut palms found on the property. Ceiling fans eliminate the need for air conditioning, and there are no radios, televisions or telephones in the rooms.

•Proximity Hotel, being built in Greensboro, N.C., has raised the bar on “green” construction. The hotel will use 100 rooftop solar panels to collect solar energy and is recycling 75 percent of its construction waste. It will use only 45 percent to 55 percent of the energy consumed by a conventional hotel. The property is capturing rainwater to irrigate the gardens. And it is restoring 700 linear feet of a stream on the property.

•Tarrytown House Estate in New York dug a well on its property to supply water for landscaping. It installed motion-sensitive thermostats in rooms so heating and cooling are not in heavy use when the room is empty. Water coolers are installed in meeting rooms, and all paper left behind from meetings is shredded and recycled.

•Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming uses wind, geothermal, biomass and hydro power to operate — equivalent to planting more than 5,000 trees over three years. It also offers bus passes to employees so they don’t have to drive their own cars from town. It spends more than $85,000 a year on the bus passes.

•Vermont’s new Snow Mountain Lodge, scheduled to open for the coming ski season, has installed just about every “green” practice a hotel can offer. It uses eco-friendly cleaning products (as many hotels now do), fluorescent bulbs, recycled paper products (such as notepads), in-room recycling bins, low-flow shower heads and toilets and motion detectors in public spaces to determine the need for air conditioning or heating. The lodge also is constructing a transfer lift between base areas so buses don’t have to run skiers back and forth.

•Kimpton Hotels’ Earthcare program includes using environmentally safe cleaning products, soy ink and recycled paper in its offices and water-saving bathroom fixtures, among other things, in all 42 properties.

•Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Granby, Colo., uses geothermal radiant heat in all of its new buildings. Its fireplaces are EPA-approved, and only environmentally sensitive cleaning and spa products are used.

•Le Meridien Hotel on Bora Bora has an established turtle sanctuary. Jumby Bay in Antigua also provides a safe haven for the endangered creatures.

•The White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, keeps auto emissions down by shuttling guests from place to place in small electric cars.

•The Hotel Monaco in Denver donates all partly used bath amenities to a local women’s shelter. Besides recycling and other in-house programs, the hotel donates $10 of every night’s stay to the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation group.

By James A. Fussell, The Kansas City Star, Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 15--Looks like other local hotels will just have to be blue with envy. Green has already been claimed by the new Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center.

In August the 50-room lodge, which opened to the public earlier this year, became only the fourth hotel in the country to be certified as green inside and out by the U.S. Green Building Council. The council promotes responsibility through water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable site development, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Other green hotels are in College Park, Md., Vancouver, Wash., and Napa Valley in California.

Kansas City architecture firm Gould Evans designed the building.

In securing a green rating, Unity's new hotel often exceeded the minimum standards, said Gary Rodgers, Unity's director of hospitality. For instance, green hotels must contain at least 5 percent recycled materials. Unity's new hotel contains 10 percent.

What's more, 50 percent of its construction waste was recycled. As required, it also sets aside a certain percentage of its space for the recycling of paper, plastics, cardboard, glass and metal.

But that's just part of the hotel's environmentally responsible resume.

Take water use. To minimize the building's impact on the surrounding ecosystem, strategically placed basins of vegetation known as bio-swales filter contaminants from storm-water runoff. Because the runoff is collected and reserved for irrigation, the landscaping is sustained by rainwater and doesn't require a sprinkler system.

Inside, water usage is reduced by 40 percent through low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets.

To keep auto emissions from entering the building, the hotel's parking lot is across the street. Air quality also is enhanced by carpet, paint, composite wood products, adhesives and sealants that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful.

"Of any building on the campus, this is the freshest air you're going to get," Rodgers said.

The Mediterranean-style one-story building is energy-efficient, too -- 50 percent more than buildings with conventional heating and cooling. It features 37 deep geothermal heat pumps buried 350 feet underground that use the year-round Earth temperature of 70 degrees to keep the space warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

An energy recovery unit provides a constant flow of fresh air and helps minimize heat loss. Fluorescent lights and motion-sensitive lighting that turns out a light if a guest forgets add to the overall energy savings.

To minimize the construction imprint on the existing environment, the building follows the natural contour of the ground. As a result, one hallway goes slightly downhill as it follows the natural grade of the land.

Even the housekeeping practices are green. Organic cleaning materials are better for the environment, and washable microfiber cleaning cloths are used in place of paper towels. Guests have the option of having their bedding and towels washed every day or leaving it as is for the duration of their stay. Most guests choose the more Earth-friendly option.

Building to green specifications was not cheap, Rodgers said. It cost 2 1/2 times what a conventional hotel would. But to Unity, whose members have long believed in being good stewards of the Earth, it was worth it.

Despite the high cost of construction, the hotel is priced competitively at $85 per night and even offers unusual extras such as Turkish marble floors in some areas and a flat-screen plasma TV mounted to the wall in every room.

Now the word is getting around about the green inn. In addition to regular visitors, several companies known for environmental responsibility have booked conferences at the hotel.

"We've attracted like-minded organizations who not only practice being green but have green meetings," Rodgers said. "The nice thing about us is we don't have to do anything to be green, since we practice it every day."

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Low impact living assesmet

LEED Rated Hotels: The Platinum Standard

The nationally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of green buildings, LEED takes a “whole-building approach” to sustainability by setting benchmarks in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

In practice, a building can be certified at one of four levels: certificate, silver, gold, or platinum. There are minimum requirements in each of the five categories, with the opportunity to accrue additional points to achieve higher ratings.

Currently, the highest rated hotel in the US is the LEED Gold-certified Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa (pictured above) in the wine country of Northern California (pictured above). Built of wood harvested from sustainable forests, the hotel also features carpets and tiles made from recycled materials, as well as solar panels for electricity generation. Compared to traditional hotels, the Gaia Napa Valley uses 26% less energy and 45% less water. The rooms even contain a copy of Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth, (in addition to the traditional Bible, of course).

There are three other LEED certified hotels in the US: The Inn & Conference Center in College Park, Maryland, the Hilton Vancouver in Washington, and The Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco (pictured at left). For those adventurous souls among us, there is also a LEED certified hotel in Dambulla, Sri Lanka: the Kandalama Hotel.

The Green Hotel Association

Hotels need not be LEED certified to have adopted green practices that can make a real difference. Many hotels have joined the Green Hotels Association. These hotels have adopted practices or technologies that reduce their impact on the environment, often well before it was common in the industry. To find green hotels across the U.S., visit our Travel & Tourism Section.

For example, Sadie Cove Lodge in Alaska, built in 1972, uses its own hydroelectric system to generate all of its own power, making it completely “off the grid”. Other hotels might use strategies that aren’t so obvious, like the use of local, native plants that require little watering, or a reflective roof that dissipates and reflects heat, reducing the “heat island” effect common in urban areas. Other green practices include using ecologically-sound cleaning products, instituting recycling and composting programs, and buying local food. The possibilities for hotels to improve on business as usual are endless!

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What are they doing to go green?

Element Hotel in Lexington that is slated to open next year will use water-saving devices that will conserve an estimated 4,358 gallons of water per room each year; will use dispensers for shampoos and lotions instead of bottles; and compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy.

Kimpton Hotels uses recycled paper, soy-based inks for stationery; energy saving lighting, water saving shower heads and faucets. They also encourage guests to go green by offering a free or discounted parking incentive for guests who drive hybrids.

At InterContinental Chicago, a motion-detection system conserves lighting and air-conditioning energy when guest rooms aren’t occupied; a towel and sheet are changed once in three days unless the guests request it. Leftover food and table scraps go to composting sites.

Four Seasons: Mineral water bottles are replaced with local tap water in pitchers.

While the hospitality industry is doing its bit towards the environment, their efforts would be a great success if the guests co-operate by minimizing wastes.

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Grappling with Green

Sensing strong interest and much confusion from the hotel sector, the Hotel Developers Conference, a professional organization that hosts an annual industry meeting, plans a conference on environmentally friendly hotels in March.

Some hotels have turned to established programs in their efforts to go green. Marriott, for example, in 2001 joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, which has given it public recognition for using lower-energy flourescent lighting and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Marriott touts its accomplishments on its Web site under the heading "Green Marriott."

A handful of hotels have gotten certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit group in Washington that grades commercial buildings on areas such as water efficiency, energy use, building materials and indoor air quality. Among them are a Hilton in Vancouver, Wash., and a Marriott at the University of Maryland. But the standards aren't designed specifically for hotels, and retrofitting older hotels to qualify can be prohibitively expensive.

Among other options, Starwood is considering getting certification for its first Element hotel, scheduled to open next July in Lexington, Mass. Depending on what's decided, green measures could add 2% to 4% to the planned $16 millon budget for the hotel, Mr. Lakas estimates.

Green Seal, another non-profit organization in Washington, has an extensive certification program for hotels and motels. The evaluation takes up to three months and costs from $1,950 to $3,000 annually, depending on the size of the hotel. Only 43 hotels nationwide have the certification. The group says interest is picking up, and it is hoping to have another 20 hotels in Chicago certified by this fall.

The "Green" Hotels Association, a Houston-based professional group that charges hotels $100-$750 a year to join, offers a list of approved vendors for products including water-saving toilets and chlorine alternatives. But they aren't vetted beyond a requirement that they send company literature explaining how the product is green. "We take their word for it," says Patty Griffin, president and founder of the association, which has also since 1993 sold a cards to hotels that nudge guests to reuse towels.

But many lodging operators in the group report mixed results in their efforts to go green, even though customers like it.

"There are so many companies promoting 'green products,' the challenge is doing enough research to identify which products are truly green," says Dean Crane, vice president of engineering for Aramark Harrison Lodging, with properties in settings from Lake Powell in Arizona to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. "There are many cleaning products that just don't hold up or achieve what they are marketed for."

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UK green hotels

The Green Tourism Business Scheme was founded in partnership with VisitScotland ten years ago and has more than 1,400 members across the UK.

Britain's 50 'Greenest' Hotels:

Ambassador Hotel, Brighton., East Sussex.

Apex City Hotel, Edinburgh, Midlothian.

Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa, Dundee, Angus.

Apex European Hotel, Edinburgh, Midlothian.

Apex International Hotel, Edinburgh, Midlothian.

Argyll Hotel, Isle of Iona, Argyll.

Bedruthan Steps Hotel, Newquay, Cornwall.

Blueseas Hotel, Penzance, Cornwall.

Budock Vean Hotel, Falmouth, Cornwall.

Careys Manor Hotel & Senspa, Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

Castle Campbell Hotel, Dollar, Clackmannanshire.

Cleaton House, Westray, Orkney.

Crown and Cushion Hotel, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

Dartmouth Golf and Country Club, Dartmouth, Devon.

Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, Melrose, Roxburghshire.

Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel, Alnwick, Northumberland.

Fairmont St Andrews, Scotland St Andrews, Fife.

Glazebrook House Hotel, Ivybridge, Devon.

Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire.

Greenbanks Country Hotel, Wendling, Norfolk.

Herrislea House, Tingwall, Shetland.

Hilton Colyumbridge Hotel, Aviemore, Inversness-shire.

Isles of Glencoe Hotel & Leisure Centre, Fort William, Inverness-shire.

Jurys Inn, Glasgow, Glasgow, Strathclyde.

Kings Manor Hotel, Edinburgh, Midlothian.

Langass Lodge, Locheport, Isle of North Uist.

Loch Torridon Hotel, Achnasheen, Ross-shire.

New Hall, St Andrews, Fife.

New Lanark Mill Hotel, Lanark, Lanarkshire.

Park Hotel, Thurso, Caithness.

Paskins Town House, Brighton, East Sussex.

Pennyghael Hotel, Pennyghael, Isle of Mull.

Pool House Hotel, Poolewe, Ross-shire

Primrose Valley Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall.

Radison SAS Glasgow, Glasgow, Renfrewshire.

Radisson SAS Hotel, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian.

Rufflets Country House & Garden Restaurant, St Andrews, Fife.

Station Hotel, Dumfries, Dumfriesh

Stein Inn Waternish, Isle of Skye

Strattons Hotel, Swafham, Norfolk.

Sunny Brae Hotel, Nairn, Inverness-shire.

Tables Hotel, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye.

The Ballachulish Hotel, Fort William, Inverness-shire

The Bonham, Edinburgh, Midlothian

The Foveran Hotel, Kirkwall, Orkney

The Howard, Edinburgh, Midlothian

The Silverdale Hotel, Brighton, East Sussex.

The White Horse Inn, Chichester, West Sussex.

The Winnock Hotel (Drymen), Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire.

Willowburn Hotel, Oban, Argyll.

Becoming ecologically friendly

The green efforts go further than asking guests to use towels and bed linens more than once (as they do at home), to conserve water and avoid flushing more detergent-laden water into sewers.

Other green initiatives are more subtle - things a guest might never notice: low-flow faucets and shower heads, water-saving toilets and the use of products that don't harm the environment.

According to Starwood, when Westin's first Element Hotel opens in Lexington, Mass., next year, shampoo dispensers will eliminate multiple plastic mini-bottles; water-saving devices will conserve an estimated 4,358 gallons of water per room each year; and compact fluorescent light bulbs will cut energy use by 75 percent.

As responsible corporate entities, Starwood and other hotel companies believe they must slash waste and pollution because it makes both sound economic and public relations sense. In time, the whole industry will have to be green to be competitive.

Kimpton Hotels, a boutique group of 42 properties, launched an EarthCare program about four years ago. The mission is "to deliver a premium guest experience through nonintrusive, high quality, eco-friendly products and services." Translation: use recycled paper and soy-based inks, recycle paper and other materials in hotels, install water-saving faucets, shower heads and toilets, use energy-saving lighting. As an added green bonus, some Kimpton hotels have a free or discounted parking incentive for guests who drive hybrids.

Here's what else, unusual and usual, is happening on the green front:

Four Seasons. During its high season, the Four Seasons Jackson Hole (Wyo.) is replacing 7,000 plastic bottles of water left when beds are turned down with pitchers of local tap water.

Hilton Hotels. The Hilton New York completed the rigging of a Pure Cell 200, a state-of-the art fuel-efficient power and hot water generating system. Several years ago, Hilton switched from incandescent to compact fluorescent lighting in guest rooms, reducing the wattage used per room by 70 percent, yet making the rooms brighter.

InterContinental Group. At InterContinental Chicago, specific green practices include a motion-detection system that conserves lighting and air-conditioning energy when guest rooms aren't occupied; a towel and sheet reuse program (changes are made every three days unless a guest requests otherwise), and water-saving devices in faucets, showers and toilets. Table scraps and leftover food go to composting sites.

Marriott. With more than 2,800 lodging properties in the U.S. and abroad, Marriott said last year's eco-efforts reduced greenhouse gases by 70,000 tons, and its goal to reduce emissions by nearly a million tons between 2000 and 2010 is the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road. Also, last year Marriott saved 65 percent on hotel lighting costs by replacing 450,000 bulbs with fluorescent lights.

Wyndham Hotels. Pure Room technology, which sanitizes every surface and fabric, and purifies air and water to provide maximum guest comfort, now is in place at three Wyndham properties - Lisle-Chicago, Miami Airport and Peachtree in Atlanta. Individualized climate controls also are being installed. Wyndham's other green initiatives: energy-efficient room lighting, water conservation, recycling, the use of materials with recycled content and solar heating where possible.

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Boston Hotel Goes Green

Need a place to crash in Beantown? As of September 1st, Jurys Boston Hotel in scenic Back Bay is offsetting 100 percent of its electricity by purchasing certified renewable energy credits. Sound too good to be true? It doesn't stop there. The in-house restaurant buys local produce whenever possible; an Ozone laundry system cuts down on chemical and hot water use; housekeeping uses environmentally friendly cleaning supplies; and Energy Star appliances—including water-conserving showerheads and compact fluorescent lighting—are ubiquitous.

Jurys is the first hotel in Boston to completely offset its electricity, and it's leading the pack compared to most hotels nationwide. How can they afford it? Jurys uses almost one-third less energy than similar buildings and saves more than $200,000, according to the EPA, which gave the hotel an Energy Star rating last year.

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Orbitz Launches Eco-friendly Travel Site

The Orbitz eco-travel microsite is a comprehensive and evolving resource for travelers who want to find everything from eco-friendly hotels to environmental volunteer opportunities. Travelers who visit the Orbitz eco-travel microsite (http://eco.orbitz.com), will have access to the following information and tools:

Articles on eco-travel. It’s important to understand exactly what “eco-tourism” means and how it effects local environments and communities throughout the world. Read articles from the experts at Away.com and Gorp.com to expand your knowledge on this important topic.

Top eco-friendly destinations. Editors from Away.com give their top picks for destinations that are doing their part to create a sustainable environment. Learn where to go and what to expect at some amazing eco-friendly destinations around the world.

Top “green” hotels. Orbitz hotel experts give picks on lodging properties that operate with environmentally-friendly practices and products. From using wind and solar power as energy sources to purchasing only environmentally friendly products such as “green” detergents for linens and soaps, these hotels are great “green” options for the environmentally conscious traveler.

Eco Volunteer Opportunities. Orbitz is linking travelers to volunteer websites where they can find rewarding opportunities to become involved in conservation initiatives during their travels.

Eco-travel tips. Making big contributions to the environment on your own can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of simple things any traveler can do to make a difference when you’re on the road. Whether renting a hybrid car or taking a “to-go” coffee cup with you on the road, Orbitz gives travelers suggestions for easy things they can do on any trip.

Orbitz is also partnering with CarbonFund.org which offsets travelers CO2 emissions by supporting renewable energy development, re-forestation projects and other initiatives focused on turning back the clock on global climate change. Through the Orbitz site, visitors will be linked to the CarbonFund site where they can make donations.

WASHINGTON (AP) Two hotels in California are the latest to meet the strict environmental standards set by the LEED Green Building Rating System.

The GAIA Napa Valley, in American Canyon, Calif., and the Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco are among just five hotels in the world to be certified as meeting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design code.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings, according to Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Buildings Council in Washington.

LEED certification means that third-party experts have verified that the building meets standards for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

The other LEED-certified hotels are the Inn & Conference Center Addition, a Marriott in Adelphi, Md., part of the University of Maryland University College; the Kandalama Hotel, in Damulla, Sri Lanka, owned by Aitken Spence Hotels Ltd., and the Vancouver Conference Center and Hotel, a Hilton in Vancouver, Wash.

The Gaia Napa Valley was certified in June and the Orchard Garden was certified in May.

Bizjournal - Walt Disney World's Contemporary, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs Resorts were designated Tuesday by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as the 34th, 35th and 36th Florida hotels in its Florida Green Lodging Program.

The program is a voluntary state initiative that provides the hotel industry with technical assistance and encourages it to adopt cost-saving "green" practices that reduce waste and conserve natural resources.

Among the measures taken by the three Disney (NYSE: DIS) hotels are a formal communication program between staff and guests, promoting environmental education and public feedback. In addition, the hotels conserve water through towel and linen reuse programs and low-flow toilets, faucets and other fixtures, and conserve energy with programmable thermostats, indoor and outdoor lighting sensors, a computerized energy management system and high energy-efficient lighting.

Waste is reduced by recycling office paper, newspaper, aluminum and steel cans and corrugated cardboard, purchasing products with 30 percent post consumer content and instituting policies such as bulk purchasing and reduced packaging. Indoor air quality is improved by utilizing high quality air-conditioning filters, using environmentally preferable cleaners and following a preventative maintenance schedule for all air-conditioning systems.

The state program was launched in March 2004. It establishes environmental guidelines for hotels and motels to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution. As a reward for designation, the state recommends facilities within the Green Lodging Program to companies and trade organizations seeking environmentally conscious lodging and convention facilities.

The state says more than 80 Florida hotels in are currently in the review and inspection process.

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