green hotel
Image: Nines Hotel

h2. Staying Power


Once upon a time, there was little an eco-conscious traveler could do to combat the hotel industry’s inherent wastefulness—besides asking housekeeping not to wash the sheets each day. “Hotels have been slow to accept green building practices,” says architect Gary Golla, an associate at Portland’s SERA Architects. Times have changed. More than 200 hotels nationwide are currently seeking some kind of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which recognizes buildings that meet benchmarks for saving energy and reducing waste, thanks to innovations like low-flow water fixtures and energy-efficient appliances. And several Portland hotels are leading the charge. Downtown’s Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, for example, is close to becoming the third hotel in the country with LEED Gold certification, and Golla expects the Nines—an extravagant 331-room “eco-luxury” hotel that opens this fall in the Meier & Frank Building—to earn LEED Silver status, becoming one of only a handful in the country to do so. But don’t think Portland’s hotel industry is just now jumping on the sustainable hospitality bandwagon: In 2004 the Doubletree Hotel Portland became the state’s first hotel to earn a stamp of approval from Green Seal (a D.C.-based nonprofit that recognizes businesses for having sustainable practices) by installing low-flow showers in all the rooms and composting food waste from the hotel restaurant. Four years later, it seems likely that the hotel chain helped inspire a chain reaction. —Camas Davis