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For Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport, Unplanned Earth Day
Opening was Timed Perfectly

COLUMBIA, S.C. - December 2011 - “It just happened that way,” says Hema Patel, in regard to her company’s Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport opening on Earth Day 2010. Planned or not, it certainly was appropriate that the six-story, 181-room hotel opened on a day that recognizes the birth of the modern day environmental movement. The hotel, which is owned by Patel and her husband’s Capital Hospitality, LLC and operated by the couple’s Courtesy Management Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C., is expected to earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in early 2012.
Patel says the intent initially was not to build a green hotel but she was inspired by a daughter who is studying architecture as well as by Dennis Quaintance, a speaker at a Hunter Conference she attended. Quaintance is CEO and CDO (chief design officer) of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, owner and operator of the LEED Platinum Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C. Patel says it was “a tough sell” convincing her husband Sudhir to build their new hotel to LEED standards but she was successful.
There are many elements of the building that contribute to its efficiency. Extra insulation was placed between the exterior brick and interior walls. Eco-Glass windows block UV light and limit heat transfer. Sensors turn off lights in business and administrative office areas. A guestroom energy management system powers down the heating and cooling system when guests are not in their rooms. Elevators feature highly efficient EcoDisc motors.
“Every single bulb is either LED or CFL,” Patel says. “We use LEDs in guest corridors. We have a plan to convert all CFLs in public spaces to LEDs.”
On Demand Water Heating System
A solar water heating system pre-heats water for the on demand (tankless) water heating system. Sometimes the solar system does such a good job heating the water that cold water needs to be added.
“Europeans and Asians use [on demand systems] all of the time,” Patel says. “We were very familiar with them. We were excited to apply the technology to a commercial building. Why keep a tank full of water heated when we do not need it?”
Patel says that overall, “The building is performing better than I ever would have expected.”
Rainwater and condensate from air-conditioners is collected and sent to a cistern under the parking lot. This water is then used for irrigation. Aerators and low-flow toilets and showerheads further contribute to water conservation.
Attention to Air Quality
A state-of-the-art ventilation system keeps air quality at the 100 percent nonsmoking hotel at a high level. Green Seal certified cleaning products and low-VOC paints and adhesives are used. Carpet and carpet padding are Greenguard certified.
The hotel has a sustainable purchasing policy. Furniture purchased for the hotel’s guestrooms, for example, was made locally in South Carolina. “I did not want any furniture made in China,” Patel says. The carpeting includes recycled content. Screen drapes are made from recycled aluminum cans.
A few other green initiatives include:
  • Towel and linen reuse program;
  • Partnership with Clean the World for soap and shampoo donation;
  • Recycling program that includes frying oil from the kitchen;
  • Live plants are placed throughout the hotel to help improve air quality;
  • Pool side lounge furniture is made from recycled milk jugs;
  • Swimming pool has a salt water filtration system; and
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee is served.
Key to the success of the hotel’s green programs is education. All employees are required to be familiar with the “hot spot guide” that highlights the hotel’s green features. Lunch ‘n’ Learns are held and Patel says she and her staff are working on a very descriptive training program for staff. The hotel has a green team and an official environmental policy.
The Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport has been recognized numerous times already for its green commitment. One example is the Exemplary Project Award that was presented by the South Carolina Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Go to the Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport. To view a video about the hotel’s green initiatives, click here.
This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to Glenn Hasek can be reached at


Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor
Green Lodging News
(440) 243-2055; Mobile: (216) 702-0334

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