The hotel industry has a big environmental impact. Hotels use vast amounts of energy and water, and generate solid and hazardous waste. Some hotels are now grasping the importance of reducing their environmental impact.
One of those hotels is the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C. which became the first hotel to earn LEED Platinum certification in the U.S. Operated by Quaintance-Weaver Hotels, the hotel uses 39 percent less energy, 34 percent less water, and 87 percent less water.
While doing eco-friendly upgrades to the hotel, the staff made sure that the replaced loop was kept from landfill by recycling it through the Mohawk Group’s ReCover program. Mohawk is the flooring industry’s largest recycler, and uses recycled content in over 500 of its products. It has a recycling facility that recycles carpet fiber into nylon and polypropylene pellets for the automotive parts and furniture industries.
Incorporating recycled materials into the hotel is a big part of the Proximity Hotel’s eco-upgrades. Building materials with recycled content were used, including reinforced steel with 90 percent post consumer recycled content. The concrete used contains four percent fly ash, which is the mineral residue left after coal combustion. The bistro bar is built of salvaged, solid walnut trees that fell down due to storm or disease. Room service trays are made of bamboo plywood or Plyboo. Guestroom shelving and the bistro’s tabletops are made of SkyBlend, a particleboard made from 100 percent post-post-industrial recycled wood pulp without formaldehyde added. Most of the construction waste generated (87 percent) was recycled, with a total of 1,535 tons of debris kept from landfill.
Renewable energy use and energy efficiency measures are other important features of the eco-upgrades. Hot water is heated with 100 solar panels that cover 102,000 square feet of roof, enough hot water for 100 homes. Water and energy are decreased by using geothermal energy for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, instead of a standard water-cooled system. Using the regenerative drive model of the Otis Gen2 elevator reduces net energy use by capturing energy and feeding it back into the building’s internal electrical grid. It is the first use of the regenerative drive model in North America.
The eco-upgrades cost between $1.5 and $2 million, but the Quaintance projects that they will pay for themselves in less than four years. The water savings cost an estimated $7,000, but will save the company $13,000 in the first year of operations. The company also expects to save $140,000 a year in utility costs.
What the upgrades by the Proximity Hotel prove is that a hotel can have a high rating and be eco-friendly. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Photo: Mohawk Industries
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.