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Starwood’s Element Hotels is the first major hotel brand to mandate that all hotels pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Thanks to thoughtful prototype development by Starwood, the first ever Element hotel which was built in Lexington, Massachusetts earned LEED-Gold certification earlier this year. To achieve LEED Gold status, Element Lexington worked closely with LEED consultants, YRG Sustainability, consulting engineers, Collective Design Associates, Synergy Engineering PLLC and general contractor Tocci Building Company in Woburn, Massachusetts to ensure that it reached its sustainability goals. The property is now considered Starwood’s “Green Innovation Lab” and has become the benchmark for all existing and upcoming Element hotels. There are six LEED-certified hotels in the portfolio and four actively seeking certification.
Launched in 2008, the Element brand is made up of only new-build hotels designed to be ‘green from the ground up’ and built to green standards that will likely earn LEED certification.
When asked why Starwood chose to go down the sustainable route for it's newest hotel brand, Christopher commends, 'Element is uniquely positioned in the hotel industry and among Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ nine brands to showcase sustainable construction, design and operations. It is designed to incubate new “green” ideas that will inspire all Starwood brands and the general public.'
'We find that staff are inspired at Element and oftentimes will incorporate some of the green features of the hotel into their personal lives like recycling and biking to work. Regarding clients and customers, many do not choose Element primarily because of its green features but are pleasantly surprised when they learn all about the hotel’s green design and operations.'
Christopher goes onto explain that one of the most exciting sustainable initiatives in the hotel is a new 'Bright Rooms' system, 'whereby an energy management system conserves electricity, cooling and heating by using in-room motion sensors that are virtually invisible to the guest. It also allows for energy efficient guestroom allocation, factoring in the amount of natural sunlight that each room receives to fill rooms appropriately. In just one month, the pilot achieved savings in electricity of more than 66,000 kilowatt hours and C02 emissions were reduced by more than 86,000 pounds. Element is estimated to save $30,000 per year in lighting costs per hotel thanks to this system and it will soon be a brand-standard for all Element hotels.'
And it doesn't stop there, here are some of the key sustainable features of the Element Lexington hotel:
What have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?
The savings we are realising in water, energy and waste, and not to mention money, are the main benefits.
Do you have plans to expand on green initiatives in the future?
At Element Lexington we are always looking into new ways to be eco-friendly. Element Lexington is actually considered Starwood’s green innovation lab so we’re a pilot hotel for a lot of green initiatives that could be rolled out not only to other Element hotels but also across the entire Starwood portfolio.
What would be your top 3 bits of advice to hotels looking to do the same?
For further information see other Green Hotelier articles featuring Starwood's sustainable initiatives