RESEARCHGREEN LUXURY:A CASE STUDY OF TWO GREEN HOTELSYong Han Ahn1 and Annie R. Pearce2ABSTRACTThe hotel industry is beginning to implement green design and construction practices,saving energy, water, and resources and thus helping to preserve the environment. Inaddition, green building practices also can provide healthy and comfortable indoorenvironments to hotel occupants including guests and employees. However, there is thepotential for conflict between green building practices and hotel guests’ satisfaction andcomfort, as the conservation of resources could detract from the quality of a guest’s visitorexperience. This study adopted a case study approach to identify and analyze greendesign and construction practices that create a green and luxurious environmentwithout damaging the hotels’ financial position. An in-depth literature review wasconducted to identify green design and construction practices, design features ofpremium hotels, and major design conflicts between the twin goals of green buildingand a luxurious hotel environment. Two LEED platinum hotels (the Proximity Hoteland the Bardessono Hotel, both in the United States) were selected and data collectedon their green design and construction practices, luxurious design features, andoperation and maintenance practices from multiple sources, including the owner,designer, contractor, engineer, and LEED consultant. From the perspective of the entirelifecycle of the building, this data was analyzed to identify green design andconstruction practices that not only provide a green, luxurious environment but alsoenhance the hotels’ financial strength.KEYWORDSgreen building, green design and construction practice, hotel industry, case studyINTRODUCTIONThroughout the design, construction, operation, and end-of-life-cycle processes that make upa building’s life, the built environment of which it is a part exerts both positive and negativeimpacts on the earth, its resources, the people that live on it, and their communities. As part ofthe effort to reduce these negative environmental impacts and maximize benefits, the conceptof “sustainability” has gained widespread acceptance over the past twenty years, encompassing ecological, economic and social aspects of the built environment (Ahn & Pearce 2007).1Ph.D., LEED AP, Assistant Professor, Construction Management, Western Carolina University, Email: [email protected](Corresponding Author).2Ph.D., LEED AP, Associate Professor, Myers-Lawson School of Construction, Virginia Tech, Email: [email protected] of Green Building

In the building sector, green design and construction practices include: increasing efficiencies,thereby saving energy, water, and other resources; furnishing satisfying, productive, healthy,and high quality indoor spaces; using environmentally preferable materials; and educatingbuilding occupants about efficiency and conservation (Ahn & Pearce 2007; Kibert 2008).Hotel industry business owners seeking to be environmentally responsible, both for economicand financial efficiency, and to satisfy their own personal ethics are introducing green building practices (Tzschentke et al. 2004; Bader 2005). This trend towards green hotels not onlyaddresses environmental concerns by saving energy, water, and resources, but is also expectedto improve guest satisfaction and comfort (Becker 2009; Millar & Baloglu 2008). Guest satisfaction, intent to return, and likelihood to recommend a hotel are important factors for success in the hospitality industry. Therefore, in developing a new hotel the design team generallyfocuses on areas known to be strongly linked to these factors, namely the lobby, the guestrooms, the bathrooms, food and beverages, spas, the outside environment, and the artworkdisplayed around the hotel (Heide & Gronhaung 2009).However, there is often the perception of some conflict between guest satisfaction andcomfort and green building practices in hotels that aspire to sustainability. According to Kirk(1995), this may arise as a result of the conservation of resources, including water and energy,which could detract from a guest’s experience and comfort. For example, luxury hotels aregenerally more spacious and include plush or exotic materials, sophisticated lighting that feelswarm and inviting, and bathrooms with large bathtubs and multiple showerheads (Schor2008). These luxury attributes of hotels are seldom compatible with green building practices,which tend towards smaller spaces, and materials and products that are non-exotic, recycled,natural, or rapidly renewable, with increased use of fluorescent lighting to reduce energy useand an emphasis on the conservation of water (McLennan 2004; Becker 2009). In addition, agreen hotel is often assumed to be unattractive in appearance and uncomfortable (McLennan2004). To counteract these tendencies and assumptions, it is therefore necessary to identifygreen building practices that can be implemented over the building’s entire life cycle to reduceits environmental impact, maximize social and economic opportunities, and improve guestsatisfaction and comfort. The researchers therefore conducted a case study of the ProximityHotel in Greensboro, NC, and the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, CA—the only hotels inthe United States at the time of this study to have achieved the highest LEED rating of Platinum while at the same time providing their guests with a comfortable and luxurious environment—in order to identify and analyze what types of green building practices are appropriateand practicable for those seeking to implement green building practices.BACKGROUND STUDIES AND LITERATURE REVIEWThis section provides background for the concept of sustainability and green practices in thebuilding sector. Current hotel design features that provide luxury environments to guestsand enhance their satisfaction are identified, along with the types of green building practicesthat can be implemented in hotels to achieve the goals of sustainability. Finally, the conflictsbetween the twin goals of achieving sustainability while at the same time providing a luxurious hotel environment are examined.Design Features for Luxury HotelsThe American term “hotel” was borrowed in the 1760s from the French term hôtel, whichoriginally referred to a nobleman’s residence, large official building, or town hall (Becker,Volume 8, Number 1 91

2009). Even though hotels in the USA were introduced in response to travellers’ need forlodging, they represented high quality guesthouses that were above the level of the taverns andsmall inns commonly found at that time (Becker 2009). Consequently, hotels tended to serveas architectural examples of American excellence and represented a distinctly American visionof mobility, civil society, and democracy (Sandoval-Strausz 2007), although this perceptionof hotels has faded somewhat over time due to the wide variety of industry market segmentation, including a large increase in supply of inexpensive, lower quality chain hotels (Becker2009). However, this trend has reversed in recent years, with several chain hotels creatingboutique brands such as the W hotel that provide excellent service to guests who are lookingfor hotel experiences with style, service, comfort, and luxury that are personal, authentic, andcreatively intriguing. These hotels often explore high fashion architecture, hotel design, anddistinct interiors that influence hotel guest satisfaction, intent to return, and their likelihoodto recommend a hotel (Heide & Gronhaung 2009). Based on reviewing a number of articlesthat discussed appropriate design features for luxury hotels, this study identified key designfeatures that can promote a hotel to luxury status (Becker, 2009; Heung et al. 2006; Curtis2001; Bernstein 1999; Cohen & Bodeker 2008; Heide & Gronhaung 2009; ). (Table 1)For example, common attributes of a luxury hotel include more space, plush or exoticmaterials, sophisticated lighting that feels warm and inviting, and bathrooms with largebathtubs and multiple showerheads (Becker 2009). These design features make guests’ visitsmore comfortable but may create a perceived conflict with sustainability because major greenTABLE 1. Design features for luxury hotels.Design FeaturesDesign Features for Luxury HotelsLobby Design Social interaction spaces not only for guests but also for the local community Staged to provide a theatrical introduction to the environment and hotel spacesGuestroom Safety, comfort, privacy, quiet and spacious guestroomsUnique design details, technology, and controllable lightingComfortable indoor environmentComfortable office spaces within the roomStylish furniture, plush materials and high tech entertainment devicesBathroom Spacious bathroomDeep tubs, his and her lavatories, walk-in showers, marble and chrome finishesQuality and appearance of amenitiesTechnology such as a small plasma television, flexible lightingArtwork High quality artwork in guestrooms, hallways, lobbies, staircases, and elevators Gallery areas in the hotelSpa Food & beverage Organic food and unusual food items Top quality food and beverageLandscapingand exteriorenvironment Parks/gardens with trees and plants Open space with trees and plants Diverse colors and textures92Attention to interior design, increasing guest relaxationTransition areas and generous public spacesMultiple relaxation areas: outdoor and indoorEnvironmental controls for guest comfortSpa cuisine-health, organic optionsJournal of Green Building

building strategies focus on reducing humans’ environmental footprint by reducing resourceconsumption to the necessities. Sometimes such luxury attributes may be perceived to beincompatible with green building practices, which often focus on reducing resource consumption over the building life cycle to minimize environmental footprint.Sustainability and Green Building PracticesGreen buildings represent the response of the building sector to the need to minimize negativeenvironmental, social, and economical impacts in the building sector. Through using greenbuilding practices, it is possible to work toward the aim of “meeting the needs and aspirationsof today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(Brudtlland 1989). To achieve a green building, green design and construction strategies shouldbe incorporated at the planning stage to the demolition phase of the building. A green buildingrelies upon a fully integrated “whole building” approach that covers the entire phase of buildingcycle including design, construction, operation, and demolition (Boecker, et al. 2009). Multiple studies have demonstrated how green buildings that incorporate green building practicesoffer benefits. For example, they can help mitigate building issues and problems, includingenvironmental problems associated with existing buildings, and also provide healthier indoorenvironments to building users. Major benefits that can be provided by a green building areshown in Table 2 below (Fisk 2000; Kats 2003a; Kats 2003b; Ding 2004; Bohdanowicz 2006;Kibert 2008; USGBC 2009; Boecker, et al. 2009; Ahn 2010; Ahn, et al. 2011):To achieve these benefits, green building practices continue to evolve, with considerableadvances in the field during the first decade of the 21st century (McLennan 2004). One of themain indicators of the success of this movement is the increasing acceptance of green buildingrating systems, mainly the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) greenbuilding rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in manybusiness sectors, including the tourism and hotel industry.The LEED Green Building Rating SystemThe LEED green building rating system has been developed and maintained by the USGBCfor over a decade, with the first version of LEED, 1.0, being released in 1998 (USGBC 2009).Since the introduction of the LEED rating system to the market, the rating system has beenextensively modified several times and the current version, 3.0, was published in 2009. Thereare now a number of different LEED rating systems, including LEED for New Construction,LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, LEED for Schools, and so on,that provide green building practices for different types of building uses and different phasesof a building’s life cycle (USGBC 2009). LEED rating systems serve as a third-party certification program and provide nationally accepted benchmarks for the design, constructionand operation of high-performance green buildings. The LEED rating system also promotesa whole-building approach to green building by recognizing performance in five key areas ofhuman and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality (USGBC 2009).Balancing the Twin Goals of Sustainability and a Luxurious Hotel EnvironmentGiven the potential for conflicts between luxury and green building practices, it is importantto understand how green building practices can be successfully implemented at each stageof hotel design, construction, operation, and demolition. According to Heung et al. (2006),Volume 8, Number 1 93

TABLE 2. Major green building practices and their potential benefits.CategoriesMajor PracticesSpecific BenefitsSustainable Site Sustainable site planning andlandscaping Solar orientation of building Public transportation Stormwater management EnergyEfficiency Solar orientation High efficiency envelopes (efficientwindows and high R-value insulation) High efficiency HVAC system Building automation systems Daylighting and high efficiency lighting Onsite renewable energy sources(photovoltaics) Energy saving Reduction in greenhouse gases Lower operating costsWaterEfficiency Water saving fixtures and technologies Rainwater harvesting system Water saving Lower operating costsMaterials &Resources Green supplies and materialsConstruction waste managementRecycled content materialsRegional materials, locally sourcedRapidly renewable materials Resource saving Reduce environmental impactsIndoorEnvironmentQuality Daylighting & high efficiency lightingAdequate air filtrationLow VOC materialsMold preventionEnhanced acoustical performance BuildingOperation &Maintenance Green cleaning suppliesIndoor pest prevention and controlWaste reduction and recyclingEnergy and water conservationGreen grounds keepingElectronic versus paper communicationGuest education/communicationprogram Reduced environmental impacts Reduced operational and maintenancecostsDemolition Exposed ceiling Nylon 6 recycled carpetReduce environmental impactsEfficiency of site useHeat island effectReduction of civil infrastructuresProductive and healthy indoor spacesProvide optimal indoorenvironment to building usersImproved occupant health andwellbeing Reduce construction wastegreen hotels can be defined as those that “adopt policies that are safe, healthy and environmentally friendly, implement green management practices, advocate green consumption, protect the ecology and use resources properly”. In addition, the most widely accepted definitionof sustainability by Brundtland (1989) is “meeting the needs and aspirations of the presentwithout compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, althoughSheehan notes that this definition is insufficient to describe green hospitality because hospitality should not be about sacrifice but rather comfort, building suspense, setting desirableexpectations and satisfying current needs. Sheehan goes on to construct a definition specifically for sustainability in the hotel industry as follows: “Sustainability is about fulfilling ourguests’ current dreams and desires without sacrificing future generations’ dreams and desires.The objective is to achieve sustainability without making it about sacrifice” (Sheehan 2007).94Journal of Green Building

To simultaneously achieve sustainability and satisfy guests, researchers and practitionershave identified a number of green building practices that can be implemented in hotels. Oneapproach is to adopt the LEED green building rating system developed by the USGBC sinceit provides third-party verification that a building is designed and built using green building strategies aimed at improving buildings’ performance including energy savings, waterefficiency, lower CO2 emissions, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship ofresources and sensitivity to their environment impacts (Becker 2009; Coleman 2009; Hasek2007; Sheehan 2007). However, Sheehan pointed out that a hotel must implement a greaternumber of green building practices, particularly interior strategies, compared to other commercial enterprises because even a relatively basic hotel must provide a comfortable environment for its guests. This is particularly important for a luxury hotel, which is also required todevote additional resources to meet a Mobile star rating standard. For example, the need toincrease the number of plumbing fixtures in the guestrooms and include extra furniture suchas chairs and tables to meet a star rating is inherently inefficient (Becker 2009). Additionalstrategies that can be applied in green hotels are listed in Table 3 below.These green building practices can be implemented without affecting the quality of theguest experience. Kasim (2004) argued that if a proper synergy between a great guest experience and a hotel’s sustainability goals could be reached, it would open new opportunities forbusiness endeavors. However, several studies have suggested that a green hotel must strike a delicate balance between providing a superior guest experience and green building practices (Kasim2004; Becker 2009). Green building decisions in the hotel must also improve guest satisfaction (Heung, et al. 2006) and it is vital for a hotel to maintain guest satisfaction while at thesame time supporting the growth of sustainability in the hotel (Becker 2009; Sheehan 2007).Researchers have also identified a first cost premium for some green hotels compared to conventional hotels due to implementing green building practices (Sheehan 2007; Becker 2009).It is therefore necessary to develop a better understanding of how to accomplish the goalsof sustainability in a hotel while maintaining a luxury environments for guests’ satisfaction, aswell as the first cost premium incurred by implementing green building practices. To answerthese research questions, this study adopted a case study research approach because this offersa useful way to explore the complex issues involved in achieving the objective of a green hoteland shed new light on the cause-effect relationship of implementing green building practices.TABLE 3. Additional strategies in hotels.AreasStrategiesInterior Lighting, air conditioning and heating: Intelligent control systems that monitorthe presence of guests in the room, together with their preferences and patterns(Heung, et al. 2006; Sheehan 2007) Fewer furniture pieces (Sheehan 2007) Carpet tiles (so only a few tiles need be replaced instead of the entire carpet inthe event of damage); Green Label Plus carpets (Sheehan 2007) Materials selected for durability (Sheehan, 2007)Operation Fresh air and clean drinking water (Heung, et al. 2006) Green products and services (Manaktola & Jauhari 2007) Operational coordination with guests, i.e., reusing towels and bedding for amulti-night stay (Sheehan 2007) Clear standards for operations and housekeeping (Kasim 2004) Recycling programs (Millar & Baloglu 2008)Volume 8, Number 1 95

RESEARCH METHOD: CASE STUDY METHODThe purpose of this study is to identify, analyze, and generalize green building practices thatcan balance the twin goals of sustainability and luxurious environment while at the same timeenhancing a hotel’s financial strength. To achieve the purpose of the study, the case stu