Designing Hotels with the Forest in Mind

Posted by Rumin Mann
August 5th, 2011

As green becomes the new gold standard, hotel owners and operators are increasingly looking to differentiate their brands through environmentally responsible facilities that get the attention of eco-conscious travelers. A 2010 survey of U.S. travelers found this strategy is effective; 48 percent of travelers said they would select a supplier that shows concern for the environment over those that do not. In addition to attracting business, investing in environmentally friendly features can cut operational costs and benefit the hotel’s bottom line.

To gain this competitive edge with consumers, owners commonly pursue widely recognized accreditations, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. For wood, however, complying with the requirements to gain a LEED point has impacts throughout the product supply chain and may have the unintended consequence of encouraging tropical deforestation.

Early in the construction of a new hotel or renovation of an existing structure, architects and designers must make decisions about the woods they will specify. Color schemes of rooms and floors must integrate the patterns and colors of wood selections. Once a wood is selected, the suppliers must identify sources of supply for all of the lumber and veneer. This is where current design practice creates a problem in selection that has repercussions all the way to the forest.

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