By Kacey Bradley
Two-thirds of today’s travelers want to stay in an eco-friendly hotel, according to a survey by TripAdvisor.com. As such, earning a LEED certification opens the door to a huge group of potential clients who want to stay in green quarters.
Of course, becoming a LEED-certified hotel isn’t an easy process. Normally, you have to follow three steps: registering your project, presenting your eco-friendly facets and submitting the application. Once you earn your approval, you’ll fall under one of four levels to determine the standard of eco-friendliness in your accommodation:
- LEED-certified: 40 to 49 points
- Silver: 50 to 59 points
- Gold: 60 to 79 points
- Platinum: 80 points or higher
Perhaps you’ve earned a lower ranking than desired, and you want to reach higher on the LEED certification scale. Or, you might be going for your LEED accreditation for the first time, and you want to make sure you reach the threshold. Either way, here are 10 ways to achieve additional credits and rise in the LEED ranks.
1. Choose the Right Location
LEED has neighborhoods pinpointed for development — building a hotel there can earn you up to 16 points alone. Simply building in a mixed neighborhood — one with residential and non-residential construction — can rake in five points. And, if your hotel happens to be close to public transit routes, you can rake in five more points there, too. Even if your building already stands, you could earn extra credits just for where your hotel happens to be.
2. Bring in a LEED Pro
Having a consultant knowledgeable in LEED will only improve the quality of your project. But hiring a LEED-accredited pro to join your team as you complete the transformation will earn you a point.
3. Add a Window Film
To earn an initial LEED certification, you have already improved your building’s energy efficiency. You’ve probably built an Energy Star program to help you cut down on usage, thus earning you LEED points already. But you can rack up additional credits by further honing your hotel’s energy usage. For instance, if you install window films to help regulate building temperature, you can bring in four additional points.
4. Revamp the Roof
Another LEED point-earning project will take you to your roof. Covering your hotel’s uppermost level in greenery will help the environment, but it can help your accommodation to earn more LEED points, too. A green roof can earn extra points for stormwater management, as well as heat island reduction. If you add an irrigation system to keep it lush and thriving, then a water-efficient landscaping credit could be yours, too. Plus, if you make part of the roof into a fruit-and-vegetable garden, you’ll also get credit for innovation.
5. Diminish Light Pollution
Light pollution might not have been on your list the first time you sought a LEED certification. So, you can earn more points by reducing the glow cast on your hotel’s exterior. You will bring in a credit if your building’s outdoor illumination doesn’t increase by more than 10 percent when the lights are switched on or off.
6. Perform Pest Control
Obviously, indoor health and air quality matter when you’re trying to earn a LEED certification. As such, pest management should be on your list of to-dos — it’s required to earn your LEED certification in the first place. Be sure to seek out a professional exterminator who has plenty of experience so that your hotel passes this part of the test.
7. Reduce Water Usage
Your hotel’s use of water will be vital in earning a LEED certification. As such, take a critical look at your guest room bathrooms — swap out regular toilets and showerheads for their low-flow counterparts. You could also change up the landscaping to make sure it, too, uses less water. For instance, you can select native plants or water your grass with rainwater instead of with fresh tap water.
8. Balance Thermal Comfort
Everyone in your LEED-certified hotel should be comfortable, temperature-wise — doing so can earn you a credit for thermal comfort under the LEED thermal energy credit. Most of the time, people report discomfort because solar heat passes through windows and boosts temperatures in particular guest rooms or areas. So, install the proper curtains, blinds or overhangs to keep the heat outside where it belongs. Automatically controlled thermostats keep temperatures balanced, too.
9. Create a Recycling Plan
Placing a few recycling bins throughout your hotel could earn you a few points, but implementing a building-wide recycling plan could push you to a new LEED level. Teach staffers what to recycle, and set a benchmark for your recycling goals. These additional steps will show that you’re serious about green processes.
10. Incorporate Better Energy Sources
If you don’t want to cover your roof with a garden, consider solar panels. Covering the roof of your building or parking deck, for example, can provide enough energy to heat all of the water that you and your guests use. Drawing energy from a green source will certainly add points to your LEED application.
A LEED certification ensures your hotel treads lightly on the environment around it. Such a quality is important to today’s travelers, so earning your LEED certification is valuable for you and your business. Start making these improvements today, or consider the above tips as final tweaks to earn more points and solidify your status as an eco-friendly accommodation.