If there is one industry that needs a shake-up in terms of sustainability, it’s the hotel industry. From excessive use of air conditioning to an eye-watering amount of laundry they aren't usually included on sustainable travel lists. But a new breed of green hotels is emerging that incorporates sustainability into every part of their operations. And there’s an easy way to check whether a hotel is green or not: LEED Certification.
What is LEED certification?
LEED, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It sets standards for efficient buildings and, based on a points system, awards hotels with silver, gold or platinum certification. Buildings get points for innovation, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and if the site of the building fits with its environment.
But LEED certification doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any luxury, far from it. Here’s where to go for some green luxury where you can relax knowing you aren’t destroying the places you traveled to see.
Best LEED Certified Hotels in the World
Hotel Terra Jackson Hole
An eco-conscious hotel and spa in Jackson Hole, Wyoming Hotel Terra is a luxurious but sustainable option for skiing or summer activities. The hotel offsets its electric and gas power and created its own systems to save water including low flow showers, solar powered taps and a garden full of native plants that don’t require irrigation in the summer. Their energy recovery technology recoups up to 81% of the heat in the air so even in the winter the heating bills are low and you stay nice and toasty. Even the structure of the building was made with 80% recycled steel. This Terra is setting a new standard for ski lodges.
Parkroyal on Pickering
Based in the most urban of cities, The Parkroyal on Pickering in Singapore calls itself a ‘Green Icon in the Heart of the City’. The concept of a hotel within a garden is obvious from the exterior where 50 different types of plants have been used to create a 15,000m2 tropical garden which seems to be taking over the building. As well as looking beautiful the vast amount of greenery absorbs heat, adds shade and the evaporative transpiration improves air quality. No luxury is lost here, there is an infinity pool, two story waterfall (!) and delicious plant based food in the restaurant using herbs from the edible garden.
A 147 room luxury boutique hotel in North Carolina, Proximity Hotel was awarded the highest platinum certificate by LEED. Almost 90% of the building materials are recycled, saving 1,500 tonnes of waste from landfill. The hotel invested in cutting edge technology so even the elevator is helping to save energy, the efficient models capture energy and feed it back into the hotel's electric grid.
Sheraton Hotel and Casino, Puerto Rico
If you still want some tropical luxury this Sheraton looks over the bay of San Jaun and has a spa, infinity pool and casino all under a ‘cool roof’. This green initiative lowers the building’s temperature and saves energy whilst protecting guests from the tropical sun. A closed-loop system converts food waste into fertilizer to use in the hotel garden and a water system catches sediment so only clean water runs out to the sea.
Bardessono Hotel and Spa
Built to provide luxury and protect the environment, this hotel is in the heart of Napa Valley, California. Next to a beautiful creek but far away enough not to disturb it, the hotel added native species to provide habitat for wildlife and stop erosion. Solar panels, specialized glass, and a heat pump system lower energy and electricity use. The building is made of 93% recycled materials with reused stone from old wine cellars and wood from salvaged trees. With prices starting from $1000 a night the only thing this hotel is not saving is your cash.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
A sustainable luxury waterfront hotel with views of Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, all rooms are optimized for energy efficiency and powered by green systems. Low-energy LED lighting, smart climate control and the use of reused materials earned it its LEED certificate. Benches and tables throughout are made from the salvaged beams of an old sugar factory and bed linen is 100% organic and non-toxic.
Long Story Short...
These green hotels are leading the way for sustainable travel. Incorporating systems into the build and operation of hotels from the beginning dramatically reduces energy consumption with no cost to luxury. Big hotel chains like Marriot are committing to obtaining LEED certification so look out for green hotels when you’re booking your next vacay.
Written by Laura Sedlak