Thursday, March 22, 2012

LEED 2012 and Hospitality: One More Reason to Party at the Holiday Inn

Kal Wellman
Associate, LEED
U.S. Green Building Council

Nothing makes for a good old fashioned hotel party quite like the efficient use of cooling tower water and improved outdoor air intake flow rates. Not enough to quench your party-going thirst? How about some building-level energy and water meters to liven up the occasion?

Nerdy LEED jokes (which are commonplace here at the USGBC office) aside, consumer demand for green hotels is driving hotel owners to rethink the way they do business, leading to an increase in LEED certifications for both new and existing hotels around the world. Major companies like Marriott, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Starwood are leading this effort and setting the bar high by participating in USGBC’s LEED Volume Program.

LEED-certified Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, NC

While this growing momentum could signal a coming paradigm shift in the hospitality industry, hotels still face a number of key challenges due to their uniqueness as a space type. For example, a hotel’s occupancy can vary daily as people check-in and out of their rooms, and they usually operate around the clock in order to provide the best level of service for their guests. Hotels also typically include a variety of on-site amenities like restaurants, bars, gyms and pools. These amenities, partnered with the need to supply energy and water to every individual guest room, result in drastically different water and energy needs compared to a typical commercial office building.

With these challenges in mind, we’ve adapted the 2012 drafts of LEED for New Construction, LEED for Existing Building: Operations & Maintenance, and LEED for Interior Design and Construction to include credits and compliance paths designed specifically for the hospitality industry. These adaptations are meant to break down barriers and make LEED more accessible for hotels, which will in turn drive change within the hospitality industry.

With the proposed changes to LEED 2012 and the commitment of some of the world’s largest hotel companies to pursue LEED certification, I’d say green hotels are here to stay – and that is certainly a good excuse to party.

You can find out more information on these adapted credits by reading the LEED 2012 rating system drafts, which are currently open for public comment until March 27.


  1. ...And in Upstate New York this is true too. In Syracuse we boast the Hotel Skyler --a former temple, then home to a theatrical company, now a LEED Platinum hotel and in Horseheads, a LEED Silver Hampton Inn. Hope to see more LEED Certified hotels for more sustainable stays when travelling.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ed. Hotel Skyler is a great example of building reuse, I hope I get the chance to stay there someday. Check out this interesting Deloitte study which found that 40% of business travelers are willing to pay a premium for green hotels: