LEED Certification for Hotels and Hospitality

LEED certification and green building issues are becoming ever more prominent on the hotel facilities management front. Facility managers from across the hospitality industry are having their development efforts scrutinized for water and energy efficiency, management of waste reduction, local and sustainable buying, and use of alternate forms of transportation. This attention to sustainability and green issues can have an impact on hotels’ bottom lines.

According to industry analysts Smith Travel Research, U.S. hotels are rising in key performance metrics. In 2012, overall hotel occupancy averaged about 61 percent, up 2.5 percent in 2011. Average daily rate increased to $106 (up 4.2 percent from 2011), and average available room revenue was at $65, an increase of 6.8 percent. Other numbers for the hotel industry are equally strong. Collectively, U.S. hotels total over 5 billion sq. feet of space, with nearly 5 million rooms across the country, and costs that are close to $4 billion in annual energy use.

LEED Certification

Because of this economic influence in today’s business, there is a significant opportunity for hotels and other hospitality locations to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts in hotel facilities management and general use of hospitality facilities. And they do this by seeking LEED certification.

LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Established by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is a non-profit rating system that has grown in stature and size over the last decade. Hotels seek LEED certifications for several reasons: to attract a growing number of eco-friendly hotel guests, while aiming to lower operating costs via utility costs savings and gain more energy efficiency though green energy suppliers.

In the LEED rankings, only three hotels in the U.S. have managed to get to the pinnacle of LEED Platinum, according to the Green Building Council. Just over 70 hotels have been LEED Gold certified, and most other U.S. hotels have achieved more basic levels of Certified Bronze and Silver LEED awards.

Specific conferences like the Green Lodging and Sustainability conference, held recently in Dallas, Texas, continue to draw more facilities managers to learn more about measures of environmental practices being undertaken.

Top hotels

Top hotels in Los Angeles are good examples of hospitality venues doing things right with sustainability practice and LEED certification efforts. They are embracing green activities in facilities management practices like changing to energy efficient lighting, energy-saving HVAC systems, new recycling programs for guests, and automatic shut-off water-saving measures.

For instance, the Hilton Hotel in LA (Universal City) has minimized its waste, created better water and energy efficiencies, and converted to environmentally responsible purchasing methods. In meeting these challenges, the hotel has met the the Green Seal Silver (GS-33) standard for Hotels and Lodging Properties. Included in the hotel’s green efforts are using eco-friendly suppliers, eco-friendly cleaning agents, and appliances certified with Energy Star.

Other developers are combining luxury and LEED. Santa Monica’s Shore Hotel is a great example of a luxury hotel that has brought together green building expertise with a luxury experience for its guests. In 2012, the hotel’s efforts in facilities management to reduce waste and promote energy and water efficiency paid off by being awarded LEED Gold certification for the design and construction.