Recently in Massachusetts Category

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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Big Green Behind Greening

More than 300 hotels around the country are now certified as "green" by state lodging programs, according to Green Lodging News, an online news site.

"Offering green programs is a win-win situation for both hotel guests and hotel operators," said Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates in Westlake Village, Calif. "Guests are increasingly looking for these types of offerings, and hotels are finding that going green actually saves money."

Environmental initiatives are a growing priority at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the White Plains, N.Y.-based operator of more than 800 hotels worldwide.

Element Hotels, the company's new extended-stay brand, said that the hotels would be built from eco-friendly materials such as carpets with recycled fibers and walls partly made from recycled tires. Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets will save an estimated 4,358.6 gallons of water per room each year, Starwood said.

The first Element hotel is expected to open next year in Lexington, Mass. Additional hotels are expected to debut around the country in 2008 and 2009.

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Guests are asking for it, new trade magazines are dedicated to it, and hoteliers in the Back Bay are watching it improve their bottom line. It is green tourism, and it no longer requires a rainforest visit.

“It's all happening very quickly,” said Dan Ruben of Boston Green Tourism (BGT), a conservation advocacy group. “Several years ago not many people thought about having green hotels. Now hotels are putting an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm and energy into this.”

One measure of a green hotel is energy efficiency. A year ago, only three hotels in Massachusetts carried the EPA Energy Star rating, which designates buildings that are in the upper 25 percentile of the most efficient buildings nationwide. Today 16 in the state carry the award, with the Jurys Boston Hotel at Stuart and Berkeley Streets recently passing the bar.

“We're quite proud of it,” said Jurys general manager Stephen Johnston. “We have a plaque just inside the front door.”

For Jurys Doyle Hotels, a chain with dozens of luxury hotels in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the energy-saving initiative was born in the Boston location. The hotel opened three years ago in the old Boston Police Headquarters building. The new boilers and other equipment installed during construction made achieving an Energy Star rating a natural step.

Johnston said the hotel spent only about $60,000 on new compact fluorescent bulbs, a greywater recycling unit to collect condensation from their cooling units, and a cardboard compactor to help recycling efforts.

According to the hotel's chief engineer David Draband, rebates from local utilities like NStar made the changeover less costly. NStar offered $4 per bulb for the lighting changeout.

“Most of these programs have a very short return on investment period: three years or less, sometimes two years,” said Draband. The next step for Jurys might be guest room occupancy sensors that turn down air conditioning and lighting when guests are out.

Governor Deval Patrick announced a proposal on June 25 that would require NStar and National Grid to pay for more energy conservation efforts, and allow the two companies to charge more per unit of power sold to offset their costs. Meanwhile, James Hunt, chief of Environmental and Energy Services, said the Menino administration is working to create a $300 to $500 million energy efficiency fund based on the Cambridge Energy Alliance's fund that would provide low or no interest loans to property owners for conservation measures. The loans would be repaid with the savings on utility bills.

The leader of urban green hotels in the Back Bay and perhaps the world is The Lenox Hotel on Boylston Street. Tedd Saunders, part of the third generation of the Saunders family to own the hotel, convinced his family to invest in green options back in 1989, well before Inconvenient Truth woke up the country to the impending global warming crisis.

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Doubletree Boston

July 23, 2007 (FinancialWire) The Doubletree Guest Suites Boston has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star, a symbol for protecting the environment through energy performance. By earning the Energy Star, the Doubletree is using at least 35% less energy than average buildings. The hotel joins approximately 930 buildings nationwide that earned the Energy Star in 2006. The hotel is managed by Hilton Hotels Corp. (NYSE: HLT).

The Doubletree Guest Suites Boston celebrates its Energy Star achievement as part of a multi-phase, hotelwide renovation project at the hotel. The hotel team has worked with the owner of the facility to provide financial and administrative support by making cost-effective improvements to the building through this energy conservation effort.

In-room coffee service with energy saving refrigerators in upgraded guestrooms; 26" LCD flat-panel televisions in living rooms and new lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs are just some of the upgrades recently installed.

In the U.S., energy loss from commercial buildings represents almost 18% of our greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $12 billion and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from 23 million vehicles in 2005 alone. The EPA reports that more than 3,200 buildings have earned the Energy Star since 1999.

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