A green urban hotel, reality or myth?

By Dian Hasan | May 28, 2010

We all know “going green” is what’s “in” today. This new respect for our immediate environment and community is impacting everything we do, including travel.

Eco-hotel is becoming an all-too-common buzzword. But is it a mere marketing gimmick, or it’s true. And how does an eco-hotel differ from a regular hotel anyway? Well, in all simplicity, to really be called green, a building must be certified by a third party that is recognized and has the right credentials. That is after a set of requirements are met.

And if you’ve always associated a green hotel with a resort or lodge, and not with an urban hotel, think again. Here’s a look at an urban hotel that achieved the highest LEED rating in 2009.

There are an increasing array of eco-friendly travel options in green, greener and greenest hotels.

One of the greenest hotels in the U.S. is Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel, which achieved a LEED Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is the USGBC’s rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings.

So what exactly makes Proximity a green hotel?

Here are some of the 70+ sustainable practices at Proximity and Print Works Bistro:

  • “The building uses 39% less energy than a conventional hotel/restaurant by using ultra efficient materials and the latest construction technology.”
  • “The sun’s energy heats hot water with 100 solar panels covering the 4,000 square feet of rooftop (enough hot water for a hundred homes). This heats around 60% of the water for both the hotel and restaurant.”

  • “The bistro bar is made of salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm and room service trays made of Plyboo (bamboo plywood).”
  • “Geothermal energy is used for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.”
  • “Abundant natural lighting, including large energy-efficient “operable” windows (7’4” square windows in guest rooms), connects guests to the outdoors by achieving a direct line of sight to the outdoor environment for more than 97% of all regularly occupied spaces.”
  • “Building materials with recycled content include reinforced steel with 90% post consumer recycled content, sheetrock 100%, asphalt 25% and staircase steel 50%. Concrete contains 4% fly ash (224,000 pounds), the mineral residue left after the combustion of coal that is diverted from landfills.”
  • “87% of construction waste was recycled, diverting 1,535 tons of debris from landfills.”
  • “Water usage has been reduced by 33% by installing high-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures, saving two million gallons of water the first year.”
  • “Air quality improved by circulating large amounts of outside air into guestrooms (60 cubic feet per minute) and doing so in an energy efficient way by employing “energy recovery” technology where the outside air is tempered by the air being exhausted.”
  • “Low-emitting volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, carpets, etc reduces indoor air contamination.”
  • “Guestroom shelving and the bistro’s tabletops are made of walnut veneer, over a substrate of SkyBlend, a particleboard made from 100% post-industrial recycled wood pulp with no added formaldehyde.”
  • ‘Education Center’ for sustainable practices includes tours of our ‘green’ hotel for guests, sustainable practices symposia, and outreach programs for students of all ages.”
  • “Bicycles are available for guests to ride on the nearby five-mile greenway.”
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