Environmentally and socially aware consumers insist on hotels that are healthy and efficient
Consumers are becoming more environmentally and socially conscious about the choices they make. They are knowledgeable about the beauty and benefits green buildings and their interiors have to offer. Hoteliers are responding by creating new eco-buildings and interiors.
Besides meeting consumer demand, the move to low-impact buildings signifies the hoteliers’ desire to cut operating costs, create healthy and productive places to stay and work, and pass the rigorous standards in order to achieve accreditation from one of the internationally recognized “green” building certification programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or BREEAM (the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).
What are some of the features that make an eco-hotel?
An eco-hotel possesses energy and water efficiency at the heart of the building and the interior design. The building contains the latest construction technology along with highly efficient and recycled content materials. Their windows let in the view and cut down on heating requirements in the winter and the need for lights during the day. They have Regenerative Drive elevators that reduce net energy usage. Many eco-hotels have green roofs that feature low-maintenance plants that retain the heat in the winter and absorb sunlight and heat in the summer. The sun’s energy is used to heat hot water with solar panels on the rooftop. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures helps reduce water usage. Improved indoor air quality throughout the building and guestrooms is accomplished by efficiently circulating large amounts of outside air into the building interiors. Interior walls are painted with eco-friendly paints that capture natural daylight and reflect heat, eco-friendly carpeting and other materials are also used to reduce off-gassing of volatile compounds in the air. Low-energy lighting systems are used to help reduce electricity usage by 40% and heighten the “wow” factor.
Low-impact buildings help hoteliers to cut their operating costs, which helps to keep room rates at a justifiable rate. It is essential that hoteliers carry out a full-life cycle analysis of furnishing a property. This means establishing the cradle-to-grave impact of purchasing and installing their interiors, sourcing raw materials (cradle) to their disposal (grave), whether it is new window treatments, carpets, mirrors, vases, tables or chairs.
What might you encounter in a guestroom?
Clean Air. Your guest room will have cleaner air because it has been filtered with highly efficient filters before being brought into the space.
Furniture and Finishes. Reclaimed, recycled and reused products, such as tables, chairs, desks, sofas, custom furniture and carpet tiles are used. Area rugs are made from recycled plastic bottles, wall coverings and glass bathroom tiles are made from recycled content. Eco and natural fabrics are used for linens, duvet covers and window treatments. Adjustable shading is used in the forms of shutters, blinds and drapery to help support energy efficiency. New furniture is made from FSC-certified woods and is finished with formaldehyde-free and lead-free stains.
Spa-Like Bathrooms. Bathrooms that may suggest a spa-like feeling with glass-enclosed showers or recycled-plastic shower curtains, Euro-style WaterSense shower systems that save thousands of gallons of water annually, backlit electric mirrors and neutral colored ceramic tiles throughout. Eco-friendly towels and bathrobes made from organic cotton or bamboo.
Technology. The newest technology that activates in-room lighting, heating and air-conditioning upon guest arrival and technology that is specifically designed to improve work efficiency and guest comfort. At some hotels, you can play your own music or movies through TeleAdapt MediaHubs, which connect electronic devices and laptop computers directly to high-definition televisions. Many hotels are Apple iPad equipped with Intelity/ICE software to their guestrooms. The iPad enables guests to access hotel services and information on their schedule in the comfort of perhaps a Serenity Bed.
Eco-hotels have the ability to exhibit the beauty and the many valuable benefits of sustainability to a wide range of people. The building and interior design decisions made will inspire and inform consumer choices in the future, and if accomplished appropriately will educate guests on the benefits of a green lifestyle.
Lynn has more than 25 years interior design experience working in architecture and interior design firms nationally and internationally producing Corporate, Commercial, Civic, Hospitality and Prestigious Residential projects for Fortune 500 and celebrity clients, architects and builders. Through her in-depth experience she has developed the design ability to see potential in all spaces, and to create innovative, customized design solutions that meet the highest standards of efficiency, quality and sophistication. She has been a long-time professional advocate for sustainable and environmentally conscious design. Lynn is the principal of her firm LHD located in Stamford, CT.
Lynn Hoffman, Principal
IIDA, RID, LEED AP ID+C