Aug072013

Environmental Impact of Travel

There is a discussion on the environmental impact of hotel hopping in a Starwood thread on FlyerTalk. One commenter suggested hotel hopping is a bad idea since it is bad for the environment. There are many rebuttal comments.

Typically I think of mileage run flights as being bad for the environment. Airlines produce significant carbon emissions. The good news is the airline industry is working to reduce carbon greenhouse gas emissions.

LEED Certification in Hotels

Have you seen this certification sign in hotels you stay?

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LEED Silver 2009 – U.S. Green Building Council certification plaque at Westin Riverfront, Avon, Colorado.

LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED provides third-party verification of green buildings. LEED is an international recognition for building design, construction and operation.

LEED Certification impact:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Conserve energy, water and other resources
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Qualify for money-saving incentives, like tax rebates and zoning allowances

Marriott International has a webpage listing its 13 LEED certified hotels.

  • Marriott Buildings
    • Marriott International Headquarters, Bethesda, Maryland.  LEED Existing Building Gold

Starwood Hotels extended stay Element brand launched about four years ago. All Element Hotels are newly constructed for LEED certification.  Starwood Hotels link to Element makes a Difference.

In 2010 there were only about 120 hotels in the U.S. with LEED certification. Over 1,000 hotels have applied in the past couple of years. Finding a list of LEED certified hotels has been a challenge in writing this piece.

Oyster.com has a short list of 20 hotels with no article date. I am amazed to see that I have stayed in 8 of the 20 LEED hotels on the list.

My hometown Portola Plaza & Spa (formerly DoubleTree by Hilton) leads the list on Oyster with Silver certification in 2010 and only the sixth hotel in the U.S. to receive LEED certification on an existing building. Portola Plaza was built in downtown Monterey more than 30 years ago.

Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Brickell became the first hotel in the Miami area to receive LEED certification with LEED Silver October 2012. Forbes: Miami’s First LEED Certified Hotel: Why Only Now?

The Forbes article states San Francisco and Las Vegas lead the way with six hotels each having LEED certification.

LEED Silver, Gold and Platinum

There are several categories of buildings for LEED certification and several levels of certification including Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Apparently there are only three hotels currently with LEED Platinum certification.

Bardessono Hotel in Yountville (Napa Valley), California has a webpage describing the features of the hotel that led to LEED Platinum certification.

Proximity Hotel, Greensboro, North Carolina is another LEED Platinum Hotel.

Here is a sampling of the 70+ sustainable practices at Proximity Hotel:

  • The building uses 39.2% 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.
  • 700 linear feet of stream was restored by reducing erosion, planting local, adaptable plant species and rebuilding the buffers and banks. Approximately 700 cubic yards of soil was removed to create a floodplain bench. And 376 tons of boulders and 18 logs were used to maintain grade control, dissipate energy and assist in the creation and maintenance of riffles and pools. 
  • 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).

  • Newly-engineered variable speed hoods in the restaurant uses a series of sensors to set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjusts to a lower level of operation (typically 25% of their full capacity). The sensors also detect heat, smoke or other effluents and increase the fan speed to keep the air fresh.
  • Geothermal energy is used for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.

Proximity Hotel, Greensboro, NC

Green Travelers

I try to be a green traveler, yet I regularly hotel hop to maximize hotel stays for elite status and points earnings and discounts. I walk and use public transportation most everywhere I travel without my car.

In hotels I try to stay environmentally friendly. Air conditioning is my biggest impact since I come from a place that is generally far cooler than most places I visit. The air conditioner in hot places is offset by seldom using heat in cold places. Generally the radiant heat from other rooms is sufficient warmth in a hotel.

Soaps and shampoos are something I take from the hotel and use at home. I travel with good quality used soaps and shampoo and either do not open the bath amenities at the hotel and leave them behind at most midscale hotels or take the bath amenities with me from the upscale hotels. I use those at home.

Perhaps there should be a green traveler checklist for meeting certification standards. I would love to do more.

Glenn Hasek is a Canadian who is editor of Green Lodging News. I have met Glenn a few times and I love the focus of his hotel industry reporting.

I was not surprised to see his articles turn up in my searches for LEED certified hotels.

Companies such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, and many others are all making commitments to pursue LEED. That is good news for our industry and good news for the environment. Interested in seeing the entire LEED certified/registered list? Contact me at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Green Lodging News October 14, 2010

Looks like I should contact Glenn.

 

Are you a green traveler?

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Interesting, Rick. So you think mileage runs are “bad” for the environment, but you’re driving around staying in roadside hotels and motels is exempt from this “destructive” behavior? A plane is going to fly whether you’re on it or not, but that car of yours stays put if you’re not in it.

  2. I drive for my work. Sometimes I fly for my work.

    Mileage runs are for the purpose of getting miles and status and usually not for the purpose of work or vacation.

    I have to get around somehow and public transportation is not a feasible option where I live in California.

    My work involves travel and that travel primarily in California means I drive my car. Plane travel is not a feasible option for many of the places I go since I need to get around and might also need to rent a car when I arrive.

    Check out a carbon calculator and you will see driving a car with two people around California has a lower carbon footprint than an airplane flight for two.

    http://www.transportdirect.info/web2/JourneyPlanning/JourneyEmissionsCompare.aspx

    Here is another carbon calculator: http://www.conservation.org/act/live_green/carboncalc/pages/default.aspx

  3. Hi Ric,

    I care as well, I’m trying to minimize air and care as much as possible.

    “Generally the radiant heat from other rooms is sufficient warmth in a hotel.”
    I think you have to reread your physics books if you believe you are saving energy in this way 😉

  4. @ralf – I was poor in physics.

    Actually I am an energy waster in cold places since I turn the heat way down in the room and often open the window.

    In Europe last March I kept windows open in hotels like Radisson Blu Berlin and Hotel Kamp Helsinki to keep the rooms cool even when it was below freezing outside. Hotels are typically way too hot for me in winter.

    Heating the rooms back up for the next guest takes energy.

  5. A plane is NOT going to keep flying if it keeps flying half-empty. At some point the flight will be axed.

  6. @Rick–
    Likewise, often times public transportation isn’t a viable option for my work or travel needs, which is why I try to shy away for casting blame or environmental “superiority” over others. I think anyone reading your blog wants to see a sustainable environment passed along to the next generation, but taking an otherwise unsold seat on a plane shouldn’t be frowned upon, at least in my option. In the spirit of disclosure, I’ve never made a mileage run, flying from DCA just isn’t conducive for it, but I don’t look down upon those who do.

  7. I share your concerns about the wastefulness of our natural resources, and am very concerned about the excessive use of water in hotels, from serving large glasses of water in the restaurants, to the very wasteful, huge showerheads delivering excessive amounts of mostly wasted water in the bath. How can we make the hotels see that, sooner or later, many are going to run out of this precious resource.

Comments are closed.