There’s just one thing that I can’t figure out: why aren’t more hotels going green? Recently, I blogged about Starwood Hotels creating a luxury, green hotel brand (and there’s also the LEED-certified Orchard Garden), but why aren’t all the other hotels going green? I have two thoughts: (1) post-9/11, hotels tanked and lost a lot of money, which they’ve really started to regain from 2004 until now…they’re busy making money and don’t want to shut the place down with expensive renovations; (2) the split between ownership and management leaves a decision making gap that prevents the hotel owner from undergoing large capital improvements; or (3) hotel owners are marketing their portfolios and green (the non-monetary kind) is the last thing on their minds. But if you ask me, the hotel industry is so levered to energy costs that it’s the only way to go. Looks like Gaia Napa Valley Hotel agrees with me.
Gaia is chasing LEED Gold (couldn’t find it in the USGBC certification or registration directory), which is the second highest tier in the green building rating system. Here are some of its green features: chemical-free landscaping; energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system using 15% less energy; various water conservation features; solar panels; zero-chlorofluorocarbon cooling system; 100% new growth-certified wood; specialty zero energy lighting throughout the hotel and public areas; and low emission paints and adhesives.
The hotel incorporates extensive use of Solatubes. These are tubular skylights that capture sunlight from the roof and direct it into the interior space through a diffusion shaft. Imagine a periscope, except that it filters in light, not images.
Another thing I’d like to point out, is that this hotel is modern + green. Innovation has advanced to the point that green looks good. Plus, if you look at the first costs and the operating costs, in comparison to a non-green building, you’re getting a great deal, so it’s economic too. Really, there’s not other way to go, especially in the hotel industry!