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The Greenhouse Effect

Juliette Borda Green hotels

Photo: Juliette Borda

This moral imperative is especially evident in small hotels, where an individual owner’s ethics can impact design from the ground up. Architect Hadrian Predock, whose firm, Predock Frane, considers sustainability to be intrinsic to its work, says that he has been fortunate to work with environmentally engaged clients for two small and sustainable inns he currently has on the boards: the Inn at the French Laundry in Napa (which he is building in collaboration with his father, Antoine Predock) and the Vines of Mendoza Resort & Winery in Argentinian wine country. Both owners, Thomas Keller in Napa and the Argentinian development group of David Garrett, Michael Evans, and Pablo Gimenez, have been instrumental in their inns’ designs. Predock sees these projects as part of a broader zeitgeist: "It is becoming clear that good ethics and good design mean good business. If hotels do not adapt to society’s changing ethical demands they will not survive."

Perhaps the most interesting—if not profound—recent development in green hospitality is its migration from hotel room to bedroom (and kitchen and bath), thanks to the proliferation of hybrid hotel and residence properties. Opening in Seattle in 2008 will be the first of Starwood Capital’s new sustainable hotel and residence collection, known simply as 1. Designed by Sienna Architecture, the building will incorporate renewable and recyclable materials, rainwater collection (which seems more than practical in Seattle), a heat-reflective roof, and key card–activated lighting systems. As architect Lee Winn explains, the hotel, which is aiming for LEED certification, will demonstrate the compatibility of luxury and sustainable living. Meanwhile, the well-known Tucson destination spa Miraval is transplanting its Life in Balance experience to condominiums on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this summer. The new Miraval Living will, like the Arizona spa, have a distinct emphasis on health and wellness. The property promises cleaner air and water (via an eco-friendly design that incorporates HEPA air filters), will serve organic food in its café, and provide a chlorine-free swimming pool and 20,000-square-foot garden (no easy feat in the city).

Such commingling means that green hotels can have an impact well beyond the hospitality industry. Los Angeles–based architect Jennifer Siegal, who is currently developing a mobile green hotel, designed to accommodate visitors at large-scale events like Nascar races and the Super Bowl, explains that a night or two in a hotel room can educate people about green materials and technologies—and inspire them to seek out such things in their own houses. "Guests may get their first intimate exposure to 'on-demand’ water heaters or coconut-palm floors without having to commit to the purchase beforehand," Siegal says. Architect Henry Smith-Miller, who is currently in the construction phase for 27 Wooster, a factory-fabricated, green-living condo project in New York’s SoHo, puts it a little more bluntly, calling the contemporary hotel "a one-night stand for environmental experimentation." And, given the virtuous cause, you’re sure to wake up without a trace of morning-after guilt.

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