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Environmental Innovation

The increasingly steady stream of renovation and conversion announcements coming across my desk lately has been a very welcome change after the holding pattern that has existed across the industry for the last couple of years. Yes, the new construction announcements are still few and far between but even those are coming back as well. But what’s even more refreshing are the number of projects, be it renovations or new builds, that are incorporating elements of sustainability into their plans.

While it is encouraging to see the number of projects aiming not just for LEED certification, but LEED Silver and Gold, it’s also important to keep in perspective that being environmentally conscious can take many different forms. Take for instance the new Hotel Lincoln in Chicago, which is profiled in this issue. A conversion of a hotel project that had stalled under prior ownership, designer Andrew Alford of Dirty Lines Design and his team reclaimed, reupholstered and refurbished as many existing furniture pieces as possible to fit the new boutique hotel’s eclectic design. In an extra stroke of innovation, the hotel’s front desk is made from more than 30 dresser drawers found in vintage shops. If that’s not an example of recycling, I don’t know what is.

But for those hoteliers aiming for LEED certification, it remains a complex process, but one that is becoming easier and more financially feasible. In the cover story of this, our annual Green Issue, we feature Marriott International and how the company has made being more environmentally conscious an initiative that starts at the top. After setting the goal of having 300 LEED certified hotels by 2015, the company’s green team developed its LEED Volume Pre-Certification program, which now consists of LEED certified prototypes for all of its select-service and extended-stay brands. Reaching the 300-hotel mark is quite a challenge, but the important part is that Marriott has now made it far easier for owners wishing to develop green hotels by essentially doing the majority of the legwork for them. With the first hotel that is part of the program due to open in the second quarter and 87 hotels pursuing certification, the company’s hard work is clearly resonating with owners.

Our trend report for this issue focuses on flooring and perhaps there is no better example of a category that has stepped up and made being more environmentally friendly a priority. Not only do vendors continue to increase the amount of recycled content in their products and reduce their carbon footprint, they are streamlining production and relying on new technologies to produce less waste. At the same time, they are also experimenting with new styles, textures and patterns to offer designers more options than ever before.

This issue also takes a look at some of the newest green hotels emerging across the country. For example, in Santa Monica, CA, the new Shore Hotel is aiming for LEED Silver certification after the owners received multiple requests from the community for a green hotel. And on the East Coast, the Hotel at Arundel Preserve was also designed according to LEED Silver standards, while also incorporating a luxurious boutique style. Great strides are being made on the sustainability front and it makes me optimistic to see what next year’s issue will hold.