According to the USGBC LEED in Motion: Hospitality report, with more than five billion square feet of space in the United States alone, the hospitality industry represents an enormous sustainability opportunity. Although trends show that the growth of green building in hospitality, which now represents 25 percent of all new construction, is expected to continue at a strong pace, the hospitality industry is noticing another trend: a change in consumer behavior. Consumers are requesting sustainable resources, evaluating the indoor environment for health concerns and placing a preference on sustainable buildings.
On Aug. 19, USGBC Kentucky celebrated certification of the first newly constructed LEED hotel in the state with a LEED plaque ceremony at the Hampton Inn & Suites Owensboro-Waterfront. Owensboro city commissioners, the county judge executive and Kentucky 7th District State Representative Suzanne Miles were joined by Rick Bender, with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, who presented owner Malcolm Bryant with the governor's certificate of recognition. Bryant also was commended for recognizing the changing trend in consumer behavior, seizing upon it, marketing to it and capturing a segment of consumers―including millennials and convention organizers―who demand it.
Malcolm Bryant is not new to sustainable building practices, however. As a commercial real estate developer, Bryant has pioneered sustainable practices for years, finding a host of economic and marketing benefits. His Owensboro office has a bifacial solar awning that picks up reflected sunlight from the sidewalk below and from direct sunlight above. This cost-saving feature also creates awareness for guests entering the building.
This mix of cost savings and merchandising also informed the design of his new Hampton Inn & Suites. Through deep research into marketing trends and millennial preferences, Bryant realized that eco-friendly features and LEED® certification would differentiate his hotel in an area with no ocean, mountains or “natural curiosities,” but with an expansive, renovated riverfront and in a town undergoing generational revitalization. He chose to push the limits, and LEED certification provided standards to guide him and his team.
According to the detailed Hampton Inn & Suites Owensboro–Waterfront Project Profile, this hotel is a sparkling example of a building that combines:
- Innovative design such as electric car charging stations, elevators that generate electricity as they descend, and a geothermal system installed in the structural pilings—the first in a U.S. hotel.
- Efficient operations, including cold-water laundry for nonstained linens, solar heating for the indoor pool and whirlpool and a 100 percent outdoor air exchange every 30 minutes.
- Commitment to local support with recycled asphalt, a retailer featuring state-themed wares and a local clothier in the lobby.
- Concern for community through participation in the Clean the World Foundation, a soap and toiletries recycling program.
Factors that drove Bryant and team to build a LEED hotel:
- Economics “tipped the scale.” Bryant, who has a 36-year history of pioneering with sustainability and a 25-year partnership with Hilton Hotels Corporation, says he could have scaled back, but looking at the return on bigger-dollar items such as geothermal, smaller considerations required for certification didn’t become detractors from the decision.
- Cool factor. Never one to “do average,” Bryant knew that the cool factor of green building would appeal to millennials, and even baby boomers, and help put Owensboro on the map. Based on research he’d done, these cohorts don’t mind spending money on things they value, or themselves, and they make better economic decisions, especially with the help of travel sites such as TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, which help travelers understand the range and economics of green choices. With lots of choices, millennials are known for being loyal up to a point, but they will readily share good finds. A LEED third-party certification added credibility to help with those choices and referrals.
- Partners and subcontractors on board early. Bryant’s subcontractors were curious to learn about innovative practices such as geothermal in pilings, an elevator that creates electricity and green roofs. According to Bryant, they “got it without much convincing” and generated creative ideas as well. Hilton Hotels Corporation was there to learn and consult also, knowing what customers want and accept and supporting Bryant with his first LEED project.
Hampton Inn & Suites Owensboro–Waterfront is the second LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky.
In August, we also celebrated LEED certification of the Aloft Louisville Downtown, Kentucky’s third LEED-certified hotel.