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April 21, 2009
How do you define a green hotel? One that asks you to reuse your towels and replaces its incandescent lights with compact fluorescents?
As if. These days, it takes more than a towel-reuse program and some tubular light bulbs to qualify as an eco-friendly hotel. The challenge, of course, is determining who's really green and who's simply greenwashing.
One way is to look for third-party validation from a group like the U.S. Green Building Council, which promotes sustainable practices through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Covering everything from site development and construction processes to air quality and energy use, the program certifies hotels and other properties in one of four categories (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum).
At this point, just 17 hotels have made the list, although more than 700 others have registered for consideration. In the meantime, and with Earth Day on April 22, the following eight hotels offer a sense of the diversity of eco-oriented accommodations and proof that style and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
With its rooftop bistro, ultralounge bar and techno-chic decor, the CityFlats Hotel definitely puts the design in green design. The 56 guestrooms feature cork flooring and bamboo linens; public spaces combine bold colors and recycled materials, and LED lighting throughout blends high style with low energy usage. The hotel, which earned LEED Gold certification last month, also hosts Green Drinks Holland, an eco-oriented social mixer, on the first Thursday of every month. High-season rates are $139-$179.
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