The environment is near the top of everyone’s list of concerns these days. We all want to leave our children with a safe and beautiful world. Teaching by example, many parents choose to ‘go green’ whenever there is an opportunity.
Travel presents a problem for environmentally conscious parents. From the massive quantity of jet fuel used by the aviation industry, to the greenhouse gases belched from the exhaust pipes of road-tripping vehicles, to the copious amount of waste produced by frequent fast food meals on-the-go, travel is a highly consumptive activity.
Fortunately, hotel accommodations can be surprisingly green, if you know where to look. There are, currently, a number of LEED certified hotels across the United States and in various locations around the world. Many more are in the planning and building phases.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a green building certification system that evaluates commercial properties. LEED certified properties are built or extensively renovated with great attention paid to the reduction of environmental impact, both during the building phase and once the property is in full operation. LEED evaluates buildings on a range of criteria and gives them a score which determines the certification rating of the site. The areas that are evaluated are:
- Sustainable Sites,
- Water Efficiency,
- Energy and Atmosphere,
- Materials and Resources,
- Indoor Environmental Quality,
- Innovation and Design
If the building meets LEED requirements, it will be given a rating of; certified, silver, gold, or platinum depending on its cumulative score. The evaluation is rigorous and is conducted by a third party, to assure that the results are unbiased.
It makes good economic sense for hotels to participate in the program. The upfront building costs tend to be higher, but they will eventually be recuperated through lower utility bills. LEED certification also draws a loyal customer base that is hungry for environmentally conscious alternatives.
In choosing a hotel with LEED certification, parents get the peace of mind that they are making a responsible choice for both the environment and the health of their children. The natural materials used throughout these buildings off-gas little or no noxious fumes, resulting in cleaner air and easy breathing for children and adults alike.
Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina is currently the highest rated LEED hotel in the United States. This beautifully designed, luxury hotel scored 55 out of a possible 69 points on the LEED evaluation, earning it Platinum status.
Compared to a similar sized hotel of conventional design, Proximity uses 39% less energy, 34% less water and produced 87% less waste during construction.
The developers of the hotel, Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, took great pains to make the most responsible choices at every turn. They went so far as to hire Chip Holton as their artist-in-residence. During the building process, Chip worked in a studio adjacent to the site, producing a total of 500 original works of art which now hang throughout the hotel. Because Chip’s studio was so near to the hotel, there was no need to package and ship the paintings. This reduced the environmental impact of the artwork immensely.
It is fortunate that Greensboro has such an impressive hotel, because the city has a lot to offer its visitors. The area has a rich history that is proudly exhibited throughout the community. There are fantastic shopping and dining options, winery tours and world class golf. Children will have a ball at any of Greensboro’s interactive venues including; Emerald Pointe Water Park, the Greensboro Children’s Museum, the Natural Science Center of Greensboro & Animal Discovery Zoological Park, and ArtQuest hands-on art gallery.
Whether you decide to make the trip to Proximity Hotel, or one of the many other LEED certified hotels and attractions across the United States, it is worthwhile to consider the environmental impact of your family’s vacation and take what steps you can to minimize it. – Jen R, Staff Writer
A list of the current LEED Certified Hotels can be found here.