Mounting awareness of climate change in recent years has led the construction industry to initiate new approaches toward sustainable building design, yet stakeholders in hospitality development still hesitate to build green. This reluctance is due to perceived high guest expectations of comfort levels and amenity access among these properties. Research was conducted to determine precisely which green building innovations present the most significant barriers to incorporating sustainability into design for hospitality. Average LEED credit implementation rates among 28 existing LEED hotel projects were calculated and compared with average credits employed among common commercial building projects. 15 of those projects’ designers also offered survey opinions on which sustainable innovations were most commonly avoided in their approaches for hospitality. The results indicate that certain credits do experience decreased popularity among hospitality projects, yet guest comfort was not the only barrier identified. Cost of implementation and local applicability affected by climate and local bylaws were also found as major role players in the selection of credits specific to hospitality design. Conclusions are presented according to the data and recommendations made to support further growth and success in future applications of LEED sustainable design in hospitality.


Sustainability ; Hospitality ; Green buildings ; Building assessment

1. Introduction

Though the rising cost of energy is often the primary motivator for sustainable building design, benefits of improved building quality, decreased operating costs, increased tenancy rates and rental incomes, worker productivity, positive publicity and marketable recognition are also significantly documented (Chen, 2015 ; Kubickova et al ., 2015  ; Walsman et al ., 2014  ; Bruns-Smith et al ., 2015  ; Singh et al ., 2014  ; Park and Millar, 2015 ; Johnston and Breech, 2010  ;  USGBC, 2011 ). Despite ranking among the most energy-intensive types of building designs, exceptionally few regulated sustainable construction guidelines exist specifically for hospitality development in North America. Though guidelines toward green hotel management do exist, guidelines specifically developed for sustainable hotel construction are still quite rare. Achieving improved energy efficiency is particularly challenging in this sector as the primary priority of leisure development is typically to provide the best possible guest comfort conditions and access to amenities. However, demand is rising for sustainable travel and accommodation options (Chen, 2015 ; Kubickova et al ., 2015  ; Bruns-Smith et al ., 2015  ; Park and Millar, 2015  ;  Dalton et al ., 2008 ). The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is currently the most popular sustainable construction guideline among commercial development in North America, though despite the documented demand for green design in hospitality the USGBC has yet to develop a version of LEED specifically for hospitality projects. However, a handful of hotel developers have still managed to gain certification according to general LEED guidelines without requiring hotel-specific recommendations. Identifying which particular LEED credits have been specifically implemented or avoided among these existing projects may assist in determining how sustainable design can be successfully achieved in the future design of sustainable hotels and resorts.

2. Sustainability and hospitality design

Hotels currently represent 5 billion square feet of built environment, 5 million guest rooms, and over $4 billion USD per year in energy consumption in the United States alone. Although the total current number of LEED certified buildings in the United States amounts to over 24,000, the number of LEED certified hotel and resort buildings among these appears virtually nonexistent. As per the USGBC׳s last record in May 2015 and the time of this research, a total of only 121 hospitality projects had achieved LEED certification, all of them in the United States.1 Yet as a result of growing awareness, the hospitality industry is under greater pressure to conform to environmental initiatives from consumers, government regulations, and environmental organizations (US Department of Energy, 2007  ;  Smerecnik and Andersen, 2011 ). Over 1100 new hotel designs have since been registered with LEED, yet still await certification.

2.1. Barriers

The difficulty in “greening” the hospitality sector lies in the task of pursuing environmental commitments while maintaining guest expectations and still earning a profit at the end of the day (Walsman et al ., 2014  ; Bruns-Smith et al ., 2015  ;  Holjevac, 2003 ). Hotel properties consume substantial amounts of energy often at incredibly low levels of efficiency in order to deliver comfort and services to guests who are willing to pay for top-rated amenities, spa treatments, and entertainment. Aspects of typical hotel amenities such as restaurants and bars, pool areas, laundry rooms, and convention centres along with the regular renovations and fluctuating guest populations that exemplify hospitality are all complex features that are not always found in regular commercial buildings, nor provided for under common LEED guidelines. Because of these exceptions to typical standard commercial development greater barriers exist for hotels to achieve LEED accreditation. Common commercial construction is better able to accommodate more efficient design for open work areas and office spaces that can be easily modified and require less extensive plumbing and mechanical systems. Still, the opportunity for reduced energy consumption and reduced waste is substantial among hospitality development (Walsman et al ., 2014  ;  Singh et al ., 2014 ). Unfortunately, credit requirements can be seen as overly limiting and intimidating among stakeholders should guest comfort expectations, star rating, and hotel brand image be compromised in the outcome. This in itself has often led stakeholders to conclude that sustainable design is too large a risk to take (Deloitte Development LLC, 2009 ). This does not include the hesitancy most prevalent among developers of any kind, and that is concerning cost.

2.2. Opportunities

However, growing research has shown that modifications for energy savings are not necessarily achieved at the expense of guest comfort. Hotels that are built green have actually been found to provide better overall experiences for guests through the improvement of indoor environmental quality while the amount of energy consumed is also reduced. A LEED-accredited sustainable identity is therefore much more likely to create a marketable public value than inhibit guest appeal due to desire for more luxurious accommodation (Johnston and Breech, 2010 ). Two separate studies have revealed that 70% of travelers would actually prefer their travel accommodations to have implemented environmentally conscious strategies, would willingly participate in green initiatives offered such as in-room recycling, and believe the hospitality industry should recognize its duty to set an environmental example (Dalton et al ., 2008  ;  Butler, 2008 ). Further to these findings, it was found tourists would pay up to 7% more for such environmentally-sound hospitality programs and amenities (Dalton et al., 2008 ). Yet though many guests do expect hotels to do their part, it remains that unrealistic assumptions of high levels of luxury can be equally offered under sustainably-built circumstances. These expectations are likely why many tourists are still not willing to pay extra for a sustainable hotel stay at all. It was determined that tourists travelling for leisure favor opportunities for optimal comfort and full access to amenities in order to “escape the obligations of daily living”, resulting in higher expectations by guests when paying to stay elsewhere than their own home (Dalton et al., 2008 ).

Though many hotel operating costs are fixed and unable to be avoided, energy use is often the largest area of opportunity for reduction among controllable costs (Walsman et al ., 2014  ;  Singh et al ., 2014  ; AlFaris et al., 2014 ). According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the United States is currently home to over 51,000 hotel and resort properties among which energy is the single fastest growing cost (American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2013 ). The typical distribution of energy consumption in a common hotel is approximately 40% for heating and air conditioning, 25% for lighting, 15% for hot water heating, 9% for restaurants and food services, 7% for ventilation, and the remainder consisting of energy requirements for appliances, elevators, escalators, and other equipment (EnergyStar, 2007 ). Hot water use has also been measured at an average of 120 L per guest per day, resulting in an annual consumption of 1850 kWh per guestroom every year on energy use for hot water heating alone (EnergyStar, 2007  ;  Bohdanowicz et al ., 2001 ). According to the US Department of Energy, hotels spend almost $2,200 USD on energy costs for every guestroom each year (US Department of Energy, 2007 ). By reducing energy consumption just 10 percent, full service hotels can expect to save between $4 and $7 USD in their average daily rates, or about $1,500 USD per guestroom every year. In other words, reducing energy consumption by just 10 percent can save the most efficient properties almost three-quarters of their annual energy costs, turning those savings directly into profit (Butler, 2008 ).

2.3. What is LEED and why choose it for hotels?

Other independent programs based upon sustainable hotel design have been developed, including UK׳s ITP Hotel Environmental Charter, IHG׳s Green Engage program, EnergyStar, Green Seal, Green Globe, and Green Key programs, to name a few (American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2013 ). However, the sustainability guidelines offered by the USGBC׳s LEED were determined to be the most appropriate guideline to work with in this study despite not being specifically hospitality-oriented. In a nutshell, the LEED program is based upon a 100 credit-point system distributed among six categories, including Energy and Atmosphere, Water Efficiency, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design (see Appendix A ). Up to three credits are mandatory under each category, with the rest able to be selected at the total discretion of the designer for what suits each unique project best. 40 Points are required to meet the minimum level of LEED Certified, then 50 for Silver, 60 for Gold, and 80 or more for Platinum status (Johnston and Breech, 2010  ;  Bohdanowicz et al ., 2001 ).

Because of its flexible, adjustable, and verifiable credit point system, LEED is the most widely implemented and respected of sustainable building guidelines in the North American commercial construction industry to date (Deloitte Development LLC, 2009 ; Turner Construction Company, 2008  ;  AlWaer and Kirk, 2010 ). Therefore it is not surprising that hotels have been able to adapt based on commonalities that are also found among common commercial construction, sometimes even exceeding them. LEED also does not dictate the method of implementation of each credit, awarding points only based on measurable outcomes, not on how the point was achieved. This allows projects with different environmental priorities, geographic limitations, or guest demographics to all still be measured according to the same scale against each other. LEED is also based on a certified documentation process rather than physical inspection, ensuring consistent and verifiable implementation of each credit among every project (Walsman et al., 2014 ). Examining which innovations and credits are currently the most commonly implemented or avoided will provide a measurable view of which sustainability measures are currently prioritized for in hospitality development.

3. Methodology

Extremely limited research currently exists on the implementation of sustainable design guidelines such as LEED. Even more limited is the research available on the topic of sustainable hospitality development. Literature on hospitality associated with LEED is virtually nonexistent. It is evident that little practical methodology has been developed in terms of sustainable hospitality design and what does exist is often seriously outdated. And yet, many professionals argue that this specific area of research is particularly important in terms of overall sustainable development (USGBC, 2009 ). With these limitations in mind, not every paper sourced for this research specifically measured the LEED design approach, but often proved valid in researching sustainable design primarily for tourism and hospitality development; likewise, not every paper specifically measured the tourism and hospitality industry, but offered insight into methods of measuring applications of LEED design and credit implementation in other areas of commercial building. Survey distribution, historical data collection, statistical analysis, case study analysis, and workshop coordination were all popular approaches found to have been undertaken in some form among the existing research. Survey distribution was found to be the most popular method of analysis undertaken for LEED-specific credit research as well as general sustainable hospitality design. This is likely explained by the lack of existing research, as surveys have been argued to be the best form of data gathering and produce the most indicative results in situations where technical data is not always available (Ko, 2005 ). In order to meet this particular objective of this research, the method of study determined to be most appopriate involved a combination of approaches. These were determined as historical data collection, statistical data analysis, and survey distribution, after an extensive literature review.

Data collection first involved making contact with USGBC-listed project managers for direct access to completed LEED checklist scoresheets. The USGBC was initially contacted directly to inquire for more information on LEED credit rate adoption statistics, yet this information was not available for public distribution. Thus, the authors had to contact the consultants directly in order to get these details. After compiling the list of scoresheets independently, it was found that many different types of properties could indeed be considered as “hospitality”. As the USGBC does not currently maintain specific LEED guidelines for hotels, properties including motels, youth hostels, country ranching outfits, YMCAs, bed-and-breakfast houses, rental and timeshare condominiums, military accommodation, university campus accommodation, hotel commercial towers, and other high-occupancy dormitory-style buildings were all found to be included along with standard hotel property design. Hotels renovated according to LEED guidelines for Existing Buildings were also included in this list. However, for the purpose of this research only those buildings encompassing the definitive stand-alone commercial hotel design and constructed as according to LEED for New Construction (NC) standard guidelines were considered as study candidates in order to maintain the most consistent measurement possible of each subject from the ground up. After filtering for property type and specific LEED–NC design, 47 hotel properties encompassing the requisite criteria remained. Of these 47, a further nine were ruled out based upon various circumstances which rendered them unfit for inclusion, such as little or no website or contact information, projects indicated to be certified when not completely built, projects inadvertently listed under two names, and so on. Therefore the final count of properties deemed satisfactory for measurement for the purpose of this research came to an end total of 38. The majority of these hotels were 3 star hotels (54%) followed by 4 star hotels (33%) and lastly 5 start hotels (13%).

The credit data was then statistically analyzed through average percentage calculations and placed into bar graphs to develop the best picture of credit rate adoption, Figure 1 . Despite limitations in terms of statistical depth, average percentages were found to demonstrate the most appropriate results for the limited study sample. Figure 1 displays an example of the data graphed for each LEED category. By the end of the 12-week information gathering process, 28 scoresheets of the 38 projects were acquired with consent from designers across the United States, shown in Figure 2 . This resulted in a response rate of 76%, an excellent value compared to rates experienced by previous study researchers (Da Silva, 2008  ;  USGBC, 2009 ).

Fig. 1

Figure 1.

Popularity levels of sustainable sites credits.

Fig. 2

Figure 2.

Distribution of LEED-accredited hospitality project participants.

The survey distribution then involved delivery of a survey via email to the same project managers responsible for scoresheet contribution for insight into the sustainable design objectives and decision rationales for credits implemented in each project. Project managers were requested to answer a short single-question survey in regard to the sustainable design of their projects. The question was presented as follows:

“In terms of sustainable design for hospitality, in your opinion were any specific LEED criteria specifically adopted or avoided for your project out of discretion for anticipated comfort levels or amenities expected by guests?”

Of the 28 consultants that responded with scoresheets, 15 offered a further written response in regards to why each designer chose to incorporate or exclude the credits they did. Each consultant׳s response was then categorized according to statements made according to designer rationales. The responses were compiled and analyzed for differences, similarities and unique circumstances that formed common patterns among the sustainable intentions of each project. Though each project is unique and limited according to geography, climate and intrinsic environmental values of each designer׳s rationale, common design justifications were identified for certain credits. These were then compared to the scoresheet data results for validation.

4. Results and analysis

4.1. LEED scoresheet data

Table 1 shows the accumulated data on the most common credits implemented among all projects. The credit category under which most of the popular credits were gained was found to be Indoor Environmental Quality, though each of the six LEED categories was home at least one of the most popular credits. Though the most popular nine credits range only between 25 and 27 applications, many other credits also experienced high levels of implementation; a total of 11 more credits experienced rates between 20 and 24 applications. No single credit was employed by 100 percent of the projects studied.

Table 1. Most popular LEED credits implemented overall.
Most popular credits overall Implementation rate
Rank Credit number Credit name Actual Percent (%)
1 IEQ 4.2 Low-emitting materials, paints and coatings 27 96
2 EA 1.1 Optimize energy performance 26 93
3 MR 2.1 Construction waste management, divert 50% from disposal 26 93
4 ID 1.1 Innovation in design: specific title 26 93
5 IEQ 6.1 Controllability of systems, lighting 25 89
6 IEQ 7.1 Thermal comfort, design 25 89
7 ID 1.0 LEED® accredited professional 25 89
8 SS 4.2 Alternative transportation, bicycle storage and changing rooms 25 89
9 WE1.1 Water efficient landscaping, reduce by 50% 25 89

Table 2 shows the accumulated data on the least common credits implemented among all projects, identified as those applied by a maximum of 3 out of the 28 projects. The credit category under which most of the least-popular credits were gained is plainly apparent – the Materials and Resources category maintains the lowest six credit types selected by any project. Energy and Atmosphere maintains the remaining three lowest. Though the nine least popular credits listed range between zero and 3, a total of 17 further credits experienced rates of 10 or fewer applications.

Table 2. Least popular LEED credits implemented overall.
Least popular credits overall Implementation rate
Rank Credit number Credit name Actual Percent (%)
1 MR 3.1 Materials reuse , 5% 0 0
2 MR 1.2 Building reuse , Maintain 100% of existing walls, floors and roof 1 4
3 MR 3.2 Materials reuse , 10% 1 4
4 MR 6.0 Rapidly renewable materials 1 4
5 MR 1.3 Building reuse , Maintain 50% of interior non-structural elements 2 7
6 EA1.10 Optimize energy performance , 42.0% 2 7
7 MR 1.1 Building reuse , Maintain 75% of Existing walls, floors and roof 3 11
8 EA1.9 Optimize energy performance, 38.5% 3 11
9 EA2.3 Onsite renewable energy, 12.5% 3 11

Figure 3 shows that overall percentage calculations indicate the Innovation in Design category experiences the highest level of overall credit point popularity with a total average credit implementation rate of 78%. This is followed by Indoor Environmental Quality at 61%. Sustainable Sites and Water Efficiency categories received mid-range credit implementation scores of 57% and 55%, while Energy & Atmosphere and Materials & Resources categories trailed the calculations at rates of 39% and 35%, barely half the rate of credit popularity experienced by Innovation in Design. The graph readily shows the disparity in the amount of credits available to LEED-pursuant hospitality projects; it is clear that many more credits points were available to be sought.

Fig. 3

Figure 3.

Average Category Points Gained by All Projects out of Total Points Possible.

4.2. Consultant surveys

According to the results of the consultants’ survey, a total of eighteen items were mentioned as avoided innovations. Out of these 18, seven different credit types were found to correspond(Table 3 ). The results indicate that the most commonly avoided item was the option of low-flow showerheads, associated with the credit of WE3.1 – Water Use Reduction. Designers from five different projects specifically excluded them from implementation. The basis given for this from all five projects was identical; showers with quality pressure provide a significant level of comfort to guests in an area of hospitality where comfort is most expected and valued.

Table 3. Design-avoided credit types among hospitality projects.
Number Item avoided Corresponding credit Reason
1 Low flow showerheads WE3.1 – Water use reduction Guest comfort
2 Low flow showerheads WE3.1 – Water use reduction Guest comfort
3 Low flow showerheads WE3.1 – Water use reduction Guest comfort
4 Low flow showerheads WE3.1 – Water use reduction Guest comfort
5 Low flow showerheads WE3.1 – Water use reduction Guest comfort
6 Natural ventilation IEQ2.0 – Increased ventilation Climate/Local pollen issues
7 Natural ventilation IEQ2.0 – Increased ventilation Climate
8 Natural ventilation IEQ2.0 – Increased ventilation Complicated floorplan
9 Onsite renewable energy EA2.0 – Onsite renewable energy City codes restricted
10 Onsite renewable energy EA2.0 – Onsite renewable energy Too expensive
11 Onsite renewable energy EA2.0 – Onsite renewable Energy Too expensive
12 Recycled greywater WE2.0 – Innovative wastewater technologies Aesthetics concern
13 Recycled greywater WE2.0 – Innovative wastewater Technologies Aesthetics concern
14 Onsite wastewater treatment WE2.0 – Innovative wastewater Technologies Too expensive/Aesthetics concern
15 IAQ pollutant control IEQ5.0 – Indoor chemical and pollutant System setup compromises other credits
16 Light colored asphalt SS7.1 – Heat island effect, Non-roof Squinting and visual discomfort
17 Low flow toilets WE3.1 – Water use reduction Potential plumbing issues/Aesthetics concern
18 Certified wood MR7.0 – Certified wood Too expensive

The next two items of Natural Ventilation and Onsite Renewable Energy were specifically excluded in a total of three instances each. Natural ventilation was avoided in terms of guest comfort for projects based in regions of less accommodating climates, where guests may become uncomfortably warm or cold without proper air conditioning systems in place. Yet, in one instance it was avoided based upon a project floorplan too restrictive to proper air flow. Onsite renewable energy was mainly avoided due to the high expenditure outlay associated with its implementation compared to lengthy payback periods, yet municipal development restrictions was another cause. Neither of these reasons was in regard to concerns of guest comfort. Innovative Wastewater Technologies including options for recycled greywater and onsite wastewater treatment were both based upon guest comfort concerns for project aesthetics, as association with these systems is often seen as uncleanly. The possibility of low-flow toilets was also associated with this concern. Light-colored asphalt for the prevention of heat-island effect was avoided in one instance to mitigate light pollution and the potential for reflected light to cause guests to squint. In another instance, IAQ pollutant control was avoided as its implementation would have compromised the application of other credits elsewhere.

Out of all credits specifically avoided, six different items among four credit types were found to be directly excluded because of perceived guest expectations of comfort. Low-flow showerheads and toilets, recycled greywater and onsite wastewater treatment, natural ventilation, and light-colored asphalt were the six items indicated to potentially cause comfort issues that project stakeholders did not wish to pursue. The corresponding credit types were found substantially within the Water Efficiency category, followed by Indoor Environmental Quality and Sustainable Sites.

5. Discussion

Comparisons of these results to similar findings among common commercial building projects arguably show that the application of LEED credits truly are weighed differently for hospitality projects. The nine credits found most popular amongst hospitality projects according to scoresheet analysis were all found to have two things in common. Each of these credits were either the least expensive, easiest options to implement, or were items already mandated to be included in development by local governing ordinances. This was also verified in results among existing studies for all other types of commercial projects (Smerecnik and Andersen, 2011 ; Da Silva, 2008  ;  Durr, 2006 ). The nine credits found to be least popular appear to be less about cost, however, and more about regional or localinapplicability.

Based on existing research, only two credits ranked as most popular were found in this study to be unique to LEED applications in hospitality. These credits, IEQ 6.1 and IEQ7.1, are credits of good choice for hospitality as they focus on controlled lighting, which is already commonplace among hotels and then surveys for thermal comfort, which are easily distributed amongst guestrooms.The two credits ranked as least popular were also unique to hospitality. These are the two last points found in the EA category׳s credit Optimize Energy Performance (OEP). Credits 1.9 and 1.10 represent the highest threshold levels indicated for energy efficiency achievement, at levels of 38.5% and 42.0% savings above basic ASHRAE performance ratings for common commercial buildings. Though the OEP credit is popular and often relatively simple to implement in its initial credit forms, cost and complexity increase with higher levels of efficiency design. Cost and complexity would be particularly extensive for hospitality design as the amount of energy consumed by these types of buildings is much greater than that of typical commercial buildings, yet still impressive is that some hotels have been able to meet these criteria as high as they have.

Despite the results of the scoresheet data, credits avoided among the consultants’ surveys revealed a contrasting picture. The only credit that came close to coinciding with scoresheet data was WE2.3 and the aversion of low-flow showerheads. Not one other credit deemed as averse by designers coincided with the unpopular credits among the scoresheet results. Credit WE3.1 and Water Use Reduction was otherwise the most commonly avoided credit with the most citations for guest comfort concerns, which is not surprising. This credit point is based upon a 20% water use reduction below standard limits. The enormous level of water consumption experienced by hotels due to hundreds of sinks, toilets, and bath facilities, as well as restaurant and housekeeping needs, makes the achievement of threshold requirements for this credit extremely difficult to meet without compromising the comfort of guest occupants. Guests often have the highest expectations when making use of bath facilities. Credits for Natural Ventilation, Onsite Renewable Energy, and Innovative Wastewater Technologieswere also among the majority indicated to be avoided, but cite other reasons for aversion, including cost, complexity, prohibitive climates, and general aesthetic concerns.

Though the USGBC does not currently offer LEED sustainable design guidelines developed specifically for the hospitality industry, a case study summary of successful credit applications under LEED–NC in existing hotel projects conducted by the USGBC does exist (USGBC, 2009 ). In their research, 15 specific credits from all six categories are summarized in their successful implementations. Intriguingly, four of these 15 credits summarized in their successes were among those in this study most avoided by designers. These four credits include SS7.1, WE2.0, WE3.1, EA2.0. Credit SS7.1, non-roof heat island reduction, was found to be avoided in this study over concerns that light-colored reflective surfaces would cause guests to squint. The case study offered by the USGBC for this credit identifies an existing hotel׳s application of light-colored open-grid block pavers rather than a fluid blanket of dark paved asphalt which effectively reflects, rather than absorbs, heat radiated onto the hotel׳s surrounding flat surfaces.

Credit EA2.0, onsite renewable energy, was foundnot only to have been implemented with relative simplicity by a number of existing hospitality projects, but the initial expense associated with implementation was usually compensated for in building energy savings within a relatively short period of time. Rooftop photovoltaic panels are the best example of successfully gaining this credit; by implementing the use of about 100 panels, several projects have been able to experience significant cost savings especially in energy use for water heating. Cost savings are also found in government tax incentives and in some cases even in the sale of excess renewable energy credits. Credits WE2.0 and 3.1 for fixture upgrades and overall water use reduction were the credits most avoided by designers, yet the case studies indicate that not only do hotel staff members believe that the high-efficiency fixtures often perform better than industry standard, but rarely have guests raised concerns that their shower experience had not met their expectations. In fact, many are often surprised when told that their bath fixtures have actually been providing them with less water. Low-flow toilets can also actually be less noisy and disturbing to guests due to shorter, lower-volume flushes.

Though case studies were not made by the USGBC for applications of IEQ2.0, IEQ5.0 and MR7.0, the remaining three credits avoided by designers, potential does existfor their success in sustainable hospitality design. The main issue surrounding IEQ5.0 is the incorporation of MERV-13 filters in mechanical ventilation systems, which is easily addressed in projects where systems have been properly designed and integrated to accommodate them. The issue surrounding MR7.0 and the use of certified wood was the fact that no certified wood was available locally to employ in structural or finishing capacities and the cost of sourcing it from elsewhere was prohibitive. In areas where certified wood is more readily available and better stocked throughout the year this credit should have few barriers to implementation provided proper funds arespecified within the budget. IEQ2.0 and the inclusion of natural ventilation systems raises the obvious question of guest comfort, yet can also pose a design challenge due to local climate and average humidity levels. However, lobbies and other common areas of hotels often successfully incorporate natural ventilation, and dual systems for natural and mechanical ventilation to ensure consistent comfort in hotel guest rooms have also been positively achieved. Eight out of 28 projects found in this study were able to successfully involve natural ventilation into their designs.

This discussion illustrates that perhaps the amount of weight placed upon guest comfort concerns may not necessarily be as vital as previously thought. As discussed, the seven credits most often avoided by designers are not reflected in the credits that are actually least often implemented. This indicates that enough applications of each credit presumed to negatively affect guest comfort exist to show that each one has been successfully applied among numerous other hotel projects. Four of these specifically avoided credits are further addressed as exemplary models of credit implementation for hotels in the case study research conducted by the USGBC (2009 ). The potential for the remaining three credits was also readily addressed by existing independent literature. Local mandates, climate, and other external factors aside, it is clear that in order for sustainability to succeed in hospitality development the education, cooperation, and integration of all stakeholders involved is paramount. It is clear that opportunities are being missed when concerns for comfort become unnecessarily prohibitive.

6. Conclusion

This research has revealed the value of sustainable design in the built environment of hospitality. The existing need for improved research on this topic is significant. Hospitality design is not only one of the most energy-intensive forms of development, it is also one with the least amount of published support for sustainable design. It is clear from this analysis that credits least popular according to schoresheets are often unachievable due to external circumstances, where credits least popular with designers are avoided for specific reasons. Though not every credit avoided from a design perspective was based upon concern for guest comfort, most were, even though actual rates of implementation do not arguably reflect the apparent aversion. The emphasis placed upon optimizing guest comfort was indeed the largest barrier to adopting sustainable innovations in hospitality. Yet this study reveals that this emphasis is not justified, as increasingly sustainable lifestyles valued by guests sees growing demand for less energy-intensive options. Hotels that are built green have been found to provide better overall experiences for guests by improving indoor environmental quality and reducing the amount of energy consumed to do so. This said, hesitancy among stakeholders is not surprising, as the success of a hotel depends directly on the positive experience of guests. The possibility that those experiences be compromised because expected comfort conditions were not met after expensive modifications can often leave sustainable design perceived as too large a risk to take.

It is important for future LEED guideline developers to note these particular credits and develop solutions to increase their rate of adoption, especially as each of the “avoided credits” have each seen successful implementations in among other hospitality projects. It is evident that the survey portion of the research inferred the most useful information in this study as intrinsic-based design rationales obviously weigh significantly on the selection of LEED credits for hospitality development.

Appendix A

LEED–NC v2.1 Credit Checklist (USGBC, 2005. LEED–NC v2.1 Project Checklist. Retrieved fromhttp://new.usgbc.org/dopdf.php?q=scorecard/new-construction/v2.1 ). (Figure A1 )

Figure A1

Figure A1.

Appendix B

LEED–NC v.4 for Hospitality Credit Checklist–Draft (USGBC, 2005. LEED for New Construction in Hospitality (v4-draft). Retrieved fromhttp://new.usgbc.org/dopdf.php?q=scorecard/hospitality---new-construction/v4-draft ). (Figure A2 )

Fig. A2

Figure A2.


  1. AlFaris et al., 2014 AlFaris, F., Abu-Hijleh, B., A-Ameer, A., 2014. Optimization of the energy performance in the hospitality sector in UAE by using the integrated control methodology in the guest rooms. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Sustainable Energy & Environmental Protection (SEEP2014), Dubai, UAE, Nov 23−25, 2014.
  2. AlWaer and Kirk, 2010 H. AlWaer, D. Kirk; Building sustainability assessment methods; Eng. Sustain., 165 (2010), pp. 241–253
  3. American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2013 American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2013. AH&LA Environment Guidelines. Retrieved from 〈http://www.ahla.com/Green.aspx?id=24560〉 .
  4. Bohdanowicz et al., 2001 Bohdanowicz, P., Churie-Kallhauge, A., Martinac, I. 2001. Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Hotels - Towards Sustainable Tourism. Paper presented at 4th International Symposium on Asia Pacific Architecture, April 2001, in Hawaii, USA.
  5. Bruns-Smith et al., 2015 Bruns-Smith, A., Choy, V., Chong, H., Verma, R. 2015. Environmental sustainability in the hospitality industry: Best practices, guest participation, and customer satisfaction Cornell Hospitality Reports vol. 15 pp. (6–16).
  6. Butler, 2008 J. Butler; The Compelling ׳׳Hard Case׳׳ for ׳׳Green׳׳ Hotel Development; Cornell Hospitality Q., 49 (2008), pp. 234–244
  7. Chen, 2015 R. Chen; From Sustainability to customer loyalty: a case of full service hotels’ guests; J. Retail. Consum. Serv., 22 (2015), pp. 261–265
  8. Dalton et al., 2008 G.J. Dalton, D.A. Lockington, T.E. Baldock; A survey of tourist attitudes to renewable energy supply in Australian hotel accommodation; Renew. Energy, 33 (2008), pp. 2174–2185
  9. Da Silva, 2008 L. Da Silva; A review of LEED credits in Canadian building projects to optimize benefits and lower costs; Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary (2008) M.Sc. Thesis
  10. Deloitte Development LLC, 2009 Deloitte Development LLC, 2009. Risks and Rewards for Building Sustainable Hotels. Retrieved from 〈www.deloitte.com/assets/DcomGreece/Local%20Assets/Documents/Attachments/Real%20Estate/RiskandRewards_Hotels.pdf〉 .
  11. Durr, 2006 E. Durr; Survey of LEED water efficiency credits and strategies in the Southeastern United States; School of the Environment, University of South Carolina (2006) M.Sc. Thesis
  12. EnergyStar, 2007 EnergyStar, 2007. Facility Type: Hotels and Motels. Retrieved from 〈http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/EPA_BUM_CH12_HotelsMotels.pdf?edec-3c74〉 .
  13. Holjevac, 2003 I. Holjevac; A vision of tourism and the hotel industry in the 21st century; Hospitality Manag., 22 (2003), pp. 129–134
  14. Johnston and Breech, 2010 Johnston, D., Breech, P. 2010. An Introduction to LEED Certification for Hotels. Lodging Hospitality Online. Retrieved from 〈http://lhonline.com/green/leed/understanding_leed_1010/〉 .
  15. Ko, 2005 T.G. Ko; Development of a tourism sustainability assessment procedure: a conceptual approach; Tour. Manag., 26 (2005), pp. 431–445
  16. Kubickova et al., 2015 M. Kubickova, H. Parsa, K. Nusair, H. Hu; Does green hotel image influence guests’ behavior: the case of generation Y; J. Serv. Res., 14 (2015), pp. 9–32
  17. Park and Millar, 2015 S. Park, M. Millar; The US traveler׳s familiarity with and perceived credibility of lodging ecolabels; J. Vacat. Mark., 21 (2015), pp. 1–10
  18. Singh et al., 2014 N. Singh, D. Cranage, S. Lee; Green strategies for hotels: estimation of recycling benefits; Int. J. Hospitality Manag., 43 (2014), pp. 13–22
  19. Smerecnik and Andersen, 2011 K. Smerecnik, P. Andersen; The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in North American hotels and ski resorts; J. Sustain. Tour., 19 (2011), pp. 171–196
  20. Turner Construction Company, 2008 Turner Construction Company; Green building market barometer; United States Green Building Council (2008) Retrieved from
  21. US Department of Energy, 2007 US Department of Energy, 2007. Hotels: An Overview of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Opportunities. Retrieved from 〈http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/challenge/learn_more/Hotel.pdf〉 .
  22. USGBC, 2005 USGBC, 2005. LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations.Retrieved from 〈http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=1095〉 .
  23. USGBC, 2009 USGBC, 2009. Practical Strategies in Green Building: Hotels. Retrieved from 〈http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=7760〉 .
  24. USGBC, 2011 USGBC, 2011. Green Building Facts. Retrieved from 〈https://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=18693〉 .
  25. Walsman et al., 2014 M. Walsman, R. Verma, S. Muthulingam; The impact of LEED certification on hotel performance; Cornell Hospitality Rep., 14 (2014), pp. 6–13


1. http://www.usgbc.org/projects/hospitality---new-construction .

Back to Top

Document information

Published on 12/05/17
Submitted on 12/05/17

Licence: Other

Document Score


Views 60
Recommendations 0

Share this document

claim authorship

Are you one of the authors of this document?