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Hotel LEED Ratings Barely Get a Mention

Only two percent of corporate travel executives would include LEED certification in their definition of hotel sustainability, a survey has found.

The poll of executives responsible for over $10 million each in annual travel budgets asked participants to describe sustainability in their own words, and found that only two percent of those surveyed mentioned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating.

In a later, multiple-choice question, executives were asked to choose which hotel sustainability measures are most important. On this measure LEED got 33 percent of votes, the same proportion as chose “ratings and certifications validating the sustainability of products”. But 37 percent voted for customer satisfaction.

“LEED certification is an important and highly valuable contribution to the building and operating performance of hotels. However, the average guest has no idea what LEED is or what benefit it has on their hotel experience,” said MindClick SGM chief executive officer JoAnna Abrams.

“With significant growth in hotel renovations anticipated for 2011, hotels have an opportunity to achieve industry leadership, improve the guest experience, and gain share through sustainable furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) purchasing,” Abrams added.

The majority of those polled, 65 percent, said they are implementing sustainable travel guidelines for their companies. They represent a range of industries including technology, manufacturing, finance and business services, MindClick said.

The study also found that no single hotel brand emerged as a leader in sustainability.

A recent study conducted by MindClick SGM for UL Environment found that 90 percent of architects and designers have researched, specified or purchased green products in the past year.

UL Environment is launching its own Environmental Product Declaration program to evaluate the environmental claims of products. The program will provide documentation of audited life cycle assessments, in accordance with ISO 14025 guidelines.

Initial product categories that have expressed interest in this type of program include building products, lighting and textiles, according to UL Environment.

Hotelier Marriott International increased its number of LEED-certified properties, including its Bethesda, Md., headquarters, from 18 to 67 by the end of 2009. It has set a target to increase the number of LEED-certified or registered new build and operating hotels to 300 by 2015.

To achieve this goal, Marriott has developed and launched a green hotel prototype design, pre-certified by the USGBC, for the Courtyard by Marriott brand. The prototype was awarded LEED Silver status.

Other hotel chains prefer the voluntary Green Key Eco-Rating system. Accor North America, parent company of Motel 6, Sofitel and Studio 6, has said it will test the Green Key system at 20 of its 1,000 U.S. hotels.

Pictured: the Courtyard Portland City Center, Marriott’s LEED Gold hotel.

Correction: This article has been amended to reflect clarifications made by MindClick after publication. These changes relate to the types of questions asked of participants and the proportions giving each reply.

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