Eco-friendly hotels save green, studies show

Two staff members are reflected dozens of times as they ascend a mirror-lined spiral staircase in the lobby of the W Hotel in Hollywood on Jan. 26, 2010. The hotel is LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hotel owners can save some green by going eco-friendly.

That is the consensus of three studies by Cornell University professors who studied whether there is an advantage to operating environmentally friendly hotels over traditional hotels.

The first study found that guests are not willing to pay more to stay at a hotel with an environmental designation.

But the other studies found hotels that receive an environmental designation, such as a certificate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council, are cheaper to operate and, as a result, generate higher profits.


When the three studies are taken together, the conclusion is that being green saves money, said Rohit Verma, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration who worked on the studies.
“Hotels that are more sustainable have a better cost structure because they use less energy,” he said.

LEED-certified hotels, such as the W Hollywood and Residence, the JW Marriott at L.A. Live and the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, use high-efficiency air conditioning, low-flow toilets and drought-tolerant landscaping, and urge guests to reuse towels, among other energy-saving efforts.

But there was one caveat to the studies: With only about 300 hotels in the U.S. that are LEED-certified, academics have limited data on which to base their studies, Verma said.

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