Emily Neagle

Good news: the pace of green building in the hospitality sector is on the rise, and it doesn’t require making any sacrifice in the luxury of your stay away from home! 

It's no secret that with operations running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, hotels consume natural resources at a high rate. Representing more than 5 billion square feet of space in the United States alone, there is an enormous opportunity for the industry—and guests—to positively affect the built environment. 

For years, USGBC has diligently made progress toward greening the hospitality sector. Among these efforts was the establishment of the LEED User Group for Hospitality and Venues, which engages in multifaceted dialogue and peer-to-peer collaboration to identify best practices, lessons learned and ongoing challenges for sustainability in the sector. The LEED in Motion: Hospitality report brings the dialogue to a wider network and highlights the opportunity for triple-bottom-line wins when hotels think sustainably. 

Across the world, demand for green hotels is rising. Today, LEED-certified hotels of all sizes are found in more than 40 U.S. states, 31 countries and five continents. It’s a movement sparked in part by guest preferences. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 percent of travelers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 percent participated in the hotel's linen and towel reuse program and 58 percent used recycling in the hotel. 

In response to this shift, companies such as Starwood’s Elements brand, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels and Hyatt Hotels include LEED mandates and policies in their design and construction specs. ITC Hotels in India requires not just LEED certification, but also top performance. 

Project spotlights 

Hotels Complex (Hyatt Place, Fairfield Inn and Suites and Aloft Hotel)

Chicago, Illinois, United States
LEED Silver

The HOK design team's primary goal was creating a sustainable five-star guest experience for this three-brand hotel complex. It was addressed with LED lighting, low-VOC finishes and furnishings, low-flow fixtures and plumbing and a comprehensive recycling program. Extensive energy savings were realized through the insulating properties of a 16,000-square-foot green roof. The roof's mix of native and adaptive species eliminated the need for irrigation, while also helping to mitigate the urban heat island effect, stormwater runoff and greenhouse gas emissions. The project also benefited from Chicago’s LEED-related incentives. 

ITC Windsor

Bengaluru, India
LEED Platinum 

ITC Windsor, spanning over 298,000 square feet, is the first hotel in South India to earn LEED Platinum under the LEED for Existing Buildings program. Smart planning and innovative technology, combined with an emphasis on responsible luxury, led to important new benchmarks in energy and water efficiency, solid waste recycling and carbon reduction. Today, ITC Windsor treats and recycles enough water to irrigate 65,000 trees annually. Its electrical energy demand is entirely met through renewable sources. Cooling demand is greatly reduced by having more than 60 percent of its roof area covered with highly reflective materials. Also noteworthy is that annual CO2 emissions have been cut by nearly 13,000 tons. 

Tambo Del Inka Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

Urubamba, Peru
LEED Certified

Tambo del Inka was the first LEED-certified hotel in Peru. Developed by Libertador Hotels, Resorts and Spas, this Luxury Collection hotel is located near Machu Picchu in an area known as the Sacred Valley. The project embraces comfort, culture and sustainability. Highlights include 100 percent onsite wastewater treatment, 100 percent nonpotable irrigation and low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water, as well as lighting and thermal comfort controls for occupant well-being. Over 1 million square feet of vegetation was restored along the Urubamba River, and regional lumber was used in both the structure and interior finishes.

Find more LEED hotels