With so many incentives now available to properties that want to “LEED”, more clubs and resorts are taking full swings at designing and operating their facilities for the maximum environmental benefit.
Even the most gruff club and resort managers who’ve never hugged a tree or munched on granola are becoming a lot more interested these days in what they can do at their properties to help save the planet.
READING THE SIGNALS
Brilliant Deductions?A NUMBER OF COMMERCIAL energy efficiency federal tax incentives have been made available to taxable businesses that improve building energy efficiency, implement combined heat and power (CHP) systems, purchase hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles and install on-site renewable generation, fuel cells, and microturbines.
If You’re Not Green, Will They Come?
GOING GREEN may also become more critical for attracting future business to your property, as many meeting planners now include environmental considerations on their checklists for determining which facilities to use. Here are the areas the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that planners evaluate when considering a facility:
It All Adds Up
SOME ESTIMATES OF SAVINGS to be gained through more energy-efficient design and facilities management:
Their awakening didn’t come because Al Gore came to visit them in their sleep. Rather, they’re under the gun to find new ways to cut operating costs, and more environmentally sound practices are at the top of the list of ways to do so.
Getting more in tune with nature, as it pertains to operating a facility, can also help a property earn a growing number of incentives now being extended by state and federal governments and utility companies.
And in the process of pursuing these goals, managers are discovering that they can get a lot of good press and create a lot of good feelings among their members and guests—and maybe even some personal warm fuzzies, too.
Taking the LEED
The most glamorous—and most challenging—way to demonstrate environmental responsibility, and to reap the full benefits that can come from it, is to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. In the U.S. and a number of other countries around the world, LEED status has become the recognized standard for measuring a building’s sustainability, and the best way to demonstrate that a building project is truly “green.”
The LEED green building rating system—developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders—is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability and reduce the negative environmental impacts of buildings. It is also geared toward improving the health and well-being of the building’s occupants.
LEED certification involves a rigorous, third-party commissioning process. If achieved, it offers compelling proof that environmental goals have been reached and a building is performing as designed. Getting certified can also help a facility qualify for a growing number of state and local government incentives.
The LEED rating system offers four certification levels for new construction—Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum—that correspond to the number of credits earned in five green design categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; and indoor environmental quality. LEED standards are not confined to new commercial construction; they can also be applied to major renovation and interior projects and existing building operations.
To date, LEED certification efforts within the hospitality industry have been largely confined to hotels, with very few actually achieving the status. But momentum is growing fast—at the beginning of June, there were 21 LEED-certified hotels in the U.S., with an additional 800 hotels in various stages of development to earn certification, from planning to finishing or retrofitting.
The fast-growing interest is being spurred by more than just the honor of it all. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that a LEED-certified property typically sees between 15% and 40% greater energy efficiency, and between 20% and 30% greater water efficiency.
Club and resort properties are starting to jump into the mix, too. One very intriguing example comes from Midland, Mich. As part of a $30 million expansion project that includes a golf course renovation, new clubhouse, swimming pool with cabana, slides and splash features, and amenities including a golf course simulator and fitness center, the 80-year-old Midland Country Club is so committed to developing a high-performance building that it is setting its sights on attaining LEED certification status for the club through a variety of steps, from site design to materials and resources used.
|The 80-year-old Midland (Mich.) Country Club is building a new clubhouse as part of a $30 million expansion and hopes to attain LEED certification status in the process.|
Some of the steps that Midland CC is taking in pursuit of this goal include:
• providing recharging stations for plug-in hybrids at three percent of the stalls in a new parking lot at the club;
• using high-efficiency HVAC systems designed to perform 16% better than code, for increased occupant comfort and reduced operating expenses;
• an exterior envelope designed to perform 20% better than code;
• trees that are removed for construction will be milled locally and used on the interior fit-out of the building;
• the existing clubhouse, a concrete building, will be recycled on site as fill, sub-base for the parking lot, and aggregate;
• water use will be reduced at the club without compromising service, by providing high-efficiency toilet fixtures, showerheads and sensor controls on faucets.
• carbon dioxide from occupied rooms will be monitored to more efficiently control fresh-air supply. The additional cost of the monitors will be offset by decreased energy use;
• non-toxic cleaning products and procedures will be used in the club to maximize members’ health and comfort.
Seek Immediate Help
Pursuing LEED certification, however, is not for those who are inexperienced, pressed for time, or faint of heart. If you are interesting in seeking to have an upcoming project become LEED-certified, the Natural Resources Defense Council provides these tips:
• Set a clear environmental target. Before the design phase of a project begins, it should be decided what level of LEED certification is being aimed for, what firm is being used, and what the overall budget is. Also, consider including an optional higher certification target—a “stretch” goal—to stimulate creativity.
• Set a clear and adequate budget. Higher levels of LEED certification, such as Platinum, do require additional expenditures, and should be budgeted for accordingly.
• Stick to your budget and LEED goal. Throughout the design and building process, make sure the entire project team is focused on meeting the goal, on budget. Maintain the environmental and economic integrity of a project at every turn.
• Engineer for life-cycle value. As a project is value-engineered, be sure to examine “green” investments in terms of how they will affect expenses over the entire life of the building. Before it’s decided to cut a line item, look first at its relationship to other features, to see if keeping it will help to achieve money-saving synergies, as well as LEED credits. Many energy-saving features allow for the resizing or elimination of other equipment, or can reduce total capital costs by paying for themselves immediately or within a few months of operation. So before starting, set goals for “life cycle” value-engineering, rather than “first cost” value-engineering.
• Hire LEED-accredited professionals. Thousands of architects, consultants, engineers, product marketers, environmentalists and other building industry professionals around the country have seen the value of become expert in “green” building and operations, and in the LEED rating system and process. These professionals can suggest ways to earn LEED credits without extra cost, identify means of offsetting certain expenses with savings in other areas, and spot opportunities for synergies in a project.
|Even Donald Trump has gone Green—the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. earned a “One Palm” designation from the Florida Green Lodging program after undergoing a makeover to adopt eco-friendly practices and services throughout the resort’s departments.|
Other Ways to Follow—and Cash In On—The Trends
Even if you don’t have a suitable project, or simply don’t have the stomach or inclination, to launch an all-out quest to be a “LEEDer,” many benefits can be achieved by simply trying to apply the principles behind the certification process to all parts of an operation, new or old. Here are some other interesting examples from the club and resort world to take note of (details on these and other examples can be found in the online version of this article, at clubandresortbusiness.com):
• The Tribute, a masterplanned golf course community being developed on the shores of Lake Lewisville in The Colony, Texas, 23 miles southwest of Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, has established a “Green Alliance” with its partners to ensure the highest levels of environmental quality and energy efficiency for the project. Members of the alliance have pledged to employ sustainable practices and green products to minimize environmental impact and resource usage on a new golf course, as well as community grounds and residences.
• The Allison Inn & Spa, an 85-room property scheduled to open in Newburg, Ore. this September, features a sedum roof designed to work in tandem with a series of photovoltaic solar panels across the remaining roof area, positioned to take full advantage of the site and maximize solar access for optimal capture of the sun by the roof panels throughout the day. The architects project that the roof (see photo, pg. 22) will generate a full seven percent of the property’s energy needs.
• The Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., earned the coveted “One Palm” designation in the Florida Green Lodging program established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Trump property, which opened in 2003, was recognized after undergoing a “green” makeover by adopting eco-friendly practices and services into the daily operations of the resort’s departments.
• The Naples (Fla.) Beach Hotel & Golf Club also earned the “One Palm” rating by “working hard to make our resort green-certified, as we realize the importance of reducing waste and conserving natural resources,” says General Manager Jim Gunderson. “This included installing water-efficient showerheads, implementing an extensive recycling program throughout the resort, installing high-efficiency air filters, installing high energy-efficient lighting, and communicating to our guests ways that they can help.
“In addition,” Gunderson added, “we now use ‘green-sealed’ cleaning products and detergents that reduce toxicity, as well as a single-step low alkaline detergent for our laundry. We’ve reduced our water use per laundry load by 18 percent, and utilize organically based fertilizers, nutrients and pesticides on our golf course. All of this has resulted in a very positive response from our guests and groups.” C&RB
For example, well and surface water feeds into canals used for all common-area irrigation; sustainable planning principals minimize paved surfaces, while preserving and utilizing natural drainage areas; and limited planting of manicured turfgrass decreases the use of maintenance equipment.
Highlights of The Tribute Green Alliance include:
• the use of well and surface water (instead of city water) for irrigation, saving approximately $200,000 to $225,000 per year in a year with normal weather patterns
• designated wildflower and planting areas on 18 acres of the golf course site to utilize native and adaptive plants that require minimal irrigation, saving approximately 12.6 million gallons of water per year
• A 100-year-old train trestle and other pedestrian and cart bridges that would have been slated for the scrap heap were relocated to the site
• Over 300 preserved trees relocated from golf course land were transplanted to roadways and parks. Bringing in new trees from tree farms would have required more than 1,020 gallons of gasoline.
• All stone materials were quarried from a location within a 500-mile of the project, as required by LEED
• Permeable golf paths were made from decomposed granite
• No-emissions electric golf carts to save thousands of dollars of fuel annually
• 1.2-mile running trail surface made from recycled materials
The roof was also designed with planted roof filters and low-sloped roofing materials to reject solar heat buildup and minimize the building’s microclimate impact.
The building also has a nine-foot-tall weather station on its west side, designed to monitor and provide predictive information to management; the data can be used to impact everything from water disbursement to harvesting decisions for the crops and produce grown on the property.
To maintain an environmentally friendly status, the resort has pledged to continue to use an electrolyzer water system to clean guest rooms and public areas; use energy-efficient air filters; institute active recycling in all guest rooms and offices, including a towel and reuse program; maintain a recently installed high energy-efficient lighting system; utilize all-natural and eco-friendly product lines and procedures at the property’s in-house salon; implement a children’s eco-education program through the resort’s Planet Kids program.
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