Eco Hospitality: A New Generation of Hotels

By Monica Breeden

The trend of green building has been steadily making its mark on both the residential and commercial markets across the globe. Hotels and resorts now offer a new kind of luxury that blends high style with sustainability. Some of the world’s leading hotels are even becoming LEED® certified. The green certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is a prestigious honor not easily earned.

To earn LEED certification, a hospitality project must meet the minimum requirements of being green by earning a minimum of 32 credits in the following categories:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation in upgrades, operations and maintenance

There are only 10 hotels that have reached LEED certification around the world including: Avalon Hotel & Spa, Hotel Arista, Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa, Heritance Kandalama, Hyatt at Olive 8, Len Foote Hike Inn, Orchard Garden Hotel, Palazzo, Proximity Hotel, and Hotel Terra Jackson Hole.

1.  Avalon Hotel & Spa – Portland, OR
The first hotel in Oregon to receive the Silver LEED Certification, the Avalon Hotel & Spa promotes a green sustainable culture among its staff and guests.  The hotel does everything from recycling more than 60 percent of waste to implementing a “green team” that meets monthly to discuss the ongoing process of maintaining a green hotel.

2.  Hotel Arista – Naperville, IL
The Hotel Arista makes eco-friendly choices a way of life. Following a plan of staying comfortable while being environmental conscious, the hotel makes preserving the earth easy and fun. Just one of the ways the Arista goes green is through its use of a water conservation system in all guest rooms consisting of dual flush toilets and low flow water fixtures. All guests also have the option to re-use their sheets and towels, which allows for reduced usage of water and cleaning supplies. Finally, all carpet throughout the hotel is made of recycled materials.

Hotel Arista in Naperville

Hotel Arista in Naperville

3.  Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa – Napa Valley, CA
Winner of the Gold LEED Certification, the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel makes great use of solar panels that provide 12 percent of its electricity.  The hotel is also made from recycled materials and reclaimed wood. Each room is pained with low-VOC paint and contains energy saving air conditioners that keep guests comfortable.  The hotel’s goal is to accommodate guests who expect to travel as they live, which now means being eco-friendly no matter where they go.

4. Heritance Kandalama – Sri Lanka
Truly a unique hotel, the Heritance Kandalama is built on a raised platform between two rock formations allowing water and animals to flow freely underneath the structure. The green philosophy behind the hotel is to create minimum impact on the surrounding eco-system.  The hotel focuses tries to be as eco-friendly as possible through its energy efficiency, conservation and management, reduction of freshwater consumption, waste water management, ecosystem conversation, and much more.

5. Hyatt at Olive 8 – Seattle, WA
Striving for a lasting minimal impact on the environment, the Hyatt at Olive 8 is a stunning addition to Seattle’s skyline. Featuring a 100 percent glass exterior and one of the city’s largest living rooftops, this hotel is green all the way around.  Focused on energy-saving and environmentally friendly practices the hotel makes use of low-flow pluming fixtures, super efficient irrigation systems, and rooms equipped with Watt Stopper® technology that only allows lights to be on while guests are in their rooms.

Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle

Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle

6. Len Foote Hike Inn – Dawsonville, GA
Committed to conservation, the Len Foote Hike Inn is nestled in the Amicalola Falls State Park in North Georgia.  The quaint 20-room Inn brings guests back to nature. Equipped with solar panels and rainwater harvesting technology the Inn proves that sustainability is easy to achieve in the hospitality industry.  One of the main attractions of the hotel is the many hiking trails.  Guests are able to experience nature first-hand while leaving mere footprints in the soil.

7. Orchard Garden Hotel – San Francisco, CA
Located in one of the most eco-conscious cities in America, the Orchard Garden Hotel offers unique green design in a boutique hotel setting.  The hotel has a 100 percent tobacco free environment, uses only recycled paper and soy-based inks, and offers in-room recycling bins and organic cleaning products.  The hotel even boasts award-winning organic restaurants.

8. Palazzo – Las Vegas, NV
Making history a little greener, the Palazzo Hotel is the largest building project to be awarded a LEED certification.  From the inside out this enormous structure has green elements present throughout its 3,066 guest rooms. Each room is fitted with sensors that adjust the temperature automatically according to guest occupancy. Outdoors, all swimming pools are heated with an expansive solar pool heating system that can be redirected in the winter to the hotel’s hot water system.  The Palazzo conserves more than 41 million gallons of water and 10 million kWh of electricity annually!

9. Proximity Hotel – Greensboro, NC
Achieving Platinum LEED Certification the Proximity Hotel proudly practices more than 70 sustainable actions every day.  These practices range from using geothermal energy to heat restaurant equipment, supplying bicycles for each guest to use on nearby trails, to an education center that teaches guest how to be sustainable in their everyday lives.  Even during construction 87 percent of waste was recycled thus diverting nearly 1,600 tons of debris from landfills.

Proximity Hotel in Greensboro

Proximity Hotel in Greensboro

10. Hotel Terra Jackson Hole – Jackson, WY
Just one hour from Yellowstone National Park the Hotel Terra Jackson Hole offers guests a spa-like experience while being green in many surprising ways.  The hotel is equipped with 100 percent organic sheets, bathrobes, and towels in each room.  Built with energy efficiency in mind the hotel has radiant heated floors, state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems, and solar powered faucets. Capturing the beauty and power of nature, 90 percent of the interiors let in natural daylight reducing electricity and promoting relaxation.

So if you’re an eco lover who wants to be green on the go, check out these LEED certified hotels. For more information on the LEED Certification process, visit