Starwood’s Element Hotels brand earns LEED ‘volume precertification’

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK Element Hotels, which is the first major hotel brand to mandate that all its properties pursue LEED certification, has achieved LEED volume precertification from for its prototype design. The precertification means that new-build Element Hotels are automatically qualified to pursue LEED designation from U.S. Green Building Council.

“Building from a prototype that’s already LEED preapproved means that Starwood helps our partners substantially reduce consulting fees, spend less on applications and certifications and minimize documentation requirements wherever possible,” says Paul Sacco, senior vice president of development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “This presents a real incentive for partners and developers to join us in the pursuit of more sustainable buildings and greener operations.”

The volume precertification initiative is part of USGBC’s Portfolio Program, which enables companies and building owners to integrate LEED into new and existing building projects using a cost-effective, streamlined certification process without sacrificing the technical rigor and integrity of LEED. The Portfolio Program recognizes market leaders who have committed to and achieved high levels of LEED certification within their portfolios.

“By using LEED certification across its building portfolio, Element has demonstrated its dedication to economic, environmental and human health,” says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of U.S. Green Building Council. “Buildings represent a tremendous opportunity to address climate change, energy dependence, increasing operating costs and the need for good green jobs. To maximize this opportunity, we need to focus on our entire building stock, and achieving LEED certification at the portfolio level is a great way for an organization to move us closer to that goal.”

Element’s LEED volume precertified prototype is based on the brand’s property in Lexington, Massachusetts, which achieved LEED Gold certification in 2008. At that property, sustainable strategies led to 20% more energy-efficiency; a 32% reduction in water use, for a savings of nearly 942,000 gallons; nearly 70% of power purchased as Green Power; and the use of low-volatile organic compounds materials throughout the hotel.

The Element brand also created a groundbreaking online “LEED Developer Roadmap” to support its partners in pursuit of environmentally responsible development. The Roadmap utilizes the learning from Element Lexington and provides a cost-effective strategy and guidance on the execution and documentation of LEED-NC, including strategies on why and how a specific credit was pursued.

At Element, which has become Starwood’s “green lab,” LEED certification is just the stepping-off point for sustainability initiatives, says Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of specialty-select brands for Starwood. “Building more efficient hotels is just the beginning for us. We’ve developed a Green Operations program for Element that ensures that even after opening and achieving LEED certification, hotels operate in a sustainable manner. Initiatives like our Sustainable Meetings program, bike rentals, electric-car charging stations, and green cleaning all contribute to conserving natural resources and reducing waste. And, all these initiatives also serve to enhance the overall guest experience.”

Starwood itself recently revealed plans to significantly reduce energy and water consumption at every one of its 1,000 hotels within a decade. Starwood will aim for a 30% reduction in energy use per available room by 2020; the company will also work toward a 20% decrease in water consumption per available room by 2020. The initiative builds on a long-standing commitment to conservation and sustainable operations at Starwood. The Element brand’s LEED initiatives helped lay the groundwork for Starwood’s own sustainability program.