Hotels as Change Agents in 2030 Districts

Starwood HQ in Stamford

Starwood HQ in Stamford

In today’s Talking Point Joyce Lee and Megan Saunders describe how US hotels can be part of the 2030 Districts Project and help to create more sustainable cities.

What are 2030 Districts?

2030 Districts are private-public partnerships that bring property owners, managers and developers together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability. The multi-purpose vision of the 2030 Districts Network is to onboard new cities to the 2030 District model, support peer exchange across Districts, store and share data, use the aggregate purchasing power of the District membership to secure reduced costs, create national partnership relationships, and influence policy making.

Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030 started the 2030 movement back in 2002 to raise awareness within the building sector of its environmental impact. The 2030 District goals for new buildings and major renovation are:

By 2015, 70% reduction in energy use below the national median (2003 national baseline);

By 2020, 80% reduction in energy use below the national median;

By 2025, 90% reduction in energy use below the national median;

By 2030, carbon neutral.

Existing buildings without major renovations, would strive for 50% energy reduction from the 2003 baseline.

Along with these targets, 2030 Districts also have standards for quantifying renewable energy, water and transportation (CO2 equivalents) reductions to help building owners and professionals compile more meaningful data for managing assets and planning new projects.

Stamford 2030 District

Stamford 2030 was created as a partnership between the Business Council of Fairfield County and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. This mix of business interest and environmental advocacy is a key factor to the fast-growing partnership. To date, 67 member buildings have signed up, and a recent grant helped the District bring on board two full-time staff.

Downtown Stamford, while small compared to other districts, is unique in its proximity to a metropolis,

New York City, and therefore big business. Fairfield County hosts 29 headquarters of Fortune 1000 companies, 11 of which are in the Fortune 500. Connecticut electricity prices are among the highest in the continental US. Stamford is positioned to spearhead energy benchmarking in the state, as it is the second largest energy market in New England after Boston. The Stamford 2030 District also puts a special focus on resiliency, as it ties directly to business continuity. This is particularly relevant for a coastal city like Stamford, which is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Most recently, Stamford 2030 convened a local constituency to work with IBM and AECOM, consultants to the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), to be the first pilot to have completed a risk assessment from the UNISDR Resiliency Scorecard. Clearly stated in the Resiliency Scorecard assessment are categories in electricity, water and transportation and infrastructure readiness in times of emergency, which can be tied to the 2030 goals.

Case Study: Starwood Hotels

The density of world and regional headquarters in Stamford also provides an opportunity to share lessons learned by sheer market forces. The green building knowledge garnered through the Stamford 2030 District can be transferred far and wide through company internal policies and communications. A case in point is the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. Corporate Headquarters at 1 Star Point which is LEED CI Platinum certified. Not only is the building poised to meet 2030 energy, water, and transportation standards readily using LEED submittal documentation, the headquarter staff is in a position to share sustainability practices among its worldwide resorts, office and hospitality locations.

The headquarters property, which is the first commercial space in Stamford to attain a LEED Platinum rating, features energy-conserving LED and CFL lighting, daylight harvesting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, and locally-sourced materials to reduce excessive transportation of materials in the design. “As we have associates, owners, partners, and other stakeholders walking through our headquarters every day, our home office needed to reflect the values of our company and our commitment to sustainability,” says Andrea Pinabell, Vice President of Sustainability with Starwood Hotels. She goes on to say, “That is why you may not see all of the integrated sustainable design as you enter, but it is reflected throughout from lighting to material selection to airflow and operational efficiency. At Starwood, sustainability is just how we do business.”

Starwood also participates in other 2030 Districts, including Seattle whose members, The Westin and Sheraton Hotels, have committed to the national 2030 goals. This year the 2030 Summit was hosted in Cleveland and participants stayed at a Starwood Property – the Westin Cleveland – where many guests chose to participate in their sustainability program to reduce their footprints by electing to “make a green choice” by foregoing full housekeeping, which saves up to 49.2 gallons of water, 0.19 kWh of electricity, 25,000 BTU of natural gas, and 7oz. of cleaning product chemicals per night. This program reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability, which is further expressed by its aggressive goals to cut energy use by 30 percent, water use by 20 percent, and carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020 at all of its hotels globally.

Vincent Martinez, Director of Development and Operations for Architecture 2030 adds: "The success of the 2030 Districts is built on the leadership of property developers, owners and managers. Together they highlight and share the great work they are doing towards achieving high levels of performance in their properties and the district as a whole. These leaders demonstrate what is possible in their sector across multiple markets, and provide a path for others to follow. The 2030 Districts are making progress towards their performance goals because of the efforts of their members and partners, like Starwood."

Joyce Lee

Joyce Lee, FAIA, LEED Fellow, is President of IndigoJLD providing green health services and design guidance on leading edge green projects. She has been an Architect Fellow at the National Leadership Academy for Public Health and one of the first LEED accredited professionals in New York City where she served as Chief Architect at NYC OMB.

Megan Saunders

Megan Saunders, LEED AP BD+C, ND, is Executive Director of the Stamford 2030 District, a public-private partnership that is part of a national network of cities using the nationally-recognized Architecture 2030 Challenge for Planning to create high-performance building districts. Previously, she was a Sustainability Project Manager at Vidaris, Inc. where she led corporate, design, and construction teams to implement sustainable environmental practices and achieve LEED ratings.


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