What Does LEED Certification Mean for Hotels?

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What Does LEED Certification Mean for Hotels?


In 2021 and beyond, hotels should embrace sustainability

In the past, we’ve written about how earning the Well Health-Safety Seal benefits hotel management, staff, and guests. It’s easy to understand why. WELL Health-Safety Ratings were developed with end-user well-being in mind. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that guests want to visit hotels that make them feel safe.

But what about rating systems that consider the health of the planet?

Yes, well-being and sanitation are top of mind for today’s travelers, but sustainability is too. As the number of eco-travelers increases, the hospitality industry is taking notice of rising demand for green buildings. For this reason, more hotels are pursuing environmentally conscious accolades, such as carbon-neutral certification and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

In this post, we tackle the latter of the two: LEED certification for hotels. What is it? How do hotels gain this important designation? We cover these questions—and much more—over the course of the article.

A green building rating system for hotels


What is LEED certification? The short answer is that it’s an award granted after a building is considered against LEED’s standards. Designed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC), LEED is a sustainability rating system that operates at the local, regional, and global levels. To gain LEED’s approval, hotels must receive third-party verification to prove the construction, design, and operation of their green buildings meet LEED’s standards. This designation can be awarded for any type of building at any phase of the construction process. Even long-finished hotels can apply for LEED certification to measure their performance and identify potential improvements.

Here’s where certification gets a bit complicated. There are many types of LEED certification. The USBGC explains different certifications, along with their criteria and prerequisites, on their website. In general, there are four levels of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. USBGC uses a point-based system to determine which tier to award to hotels. Considerations vary depending on certification type, but the council generally analyzes building performance related to integrative processes, location and transportation, sustainable sites, water, energy, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

What Does LEED Certification Mean for Hotels?

As the most recognized green building rating system, LEED provides guidelines to ensure that structures of any type are functioning to support health, efficiency, and affordability. Hotel owners and operators hoping to gain this designation should begin by targeting a certification type and consulting with LEED certified architects.


How does LEED certification benefit guests?


Although LEED-certified buildings typically cost more to build, and although the certification process comes with its own expenses, gaining LEED certification ultimately benefits the people hotel owners and employees care about most: their guests.

Acquiring LEED certification is a public display of a hotel’s dedication to guest health and the environment. This accolade serves as proof that a hotel functions in an energy efficient manner, mitigates carbon emissions and solid waste, and has relatively clean air. Because of this, LEED-certified hotels are at an advantage when it comes to attracting and maintaining environmentally conscious guests.

Owners and developers can count on more than occupancy rates for ROI. Given the energy efficiency of LEED-certified hotels, their energy, water, and overall operating costs are typically lower than non-certified hotels of similar sizes. In addition, many cities incentivize these types of hotels by offering tax rebates and zoning allowances.


Thinking about going green?


Whether hotel developers want to lower their environmental impact or improve guest experience, pursuing LEED certification is a worthy endeavor. It comes with many financial, health, and sustainability benefits.

Looking to develop an energy efficient hotel or improve indoor air quality at an existing building? Start a conversation with Ramaker.

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Joe Gallaghe


Joe Gallagher leads architectural business development at Ramaker. With over 10 years of design experience, ranging from multifamily housing, senior living, and community-based projects to entertainment, hospitality, municipal, and government work, Joe delivers creative solutions for projects of all types and sizes.

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