Tempe hotel first in Valley to go green
Aloft Hotel in Tempe has become the Valley's first hotel to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Aloft is among a handful of Arizona hotels seeking LEED certification. Drury Inn & Suites in Flagstaff was the first hotel in Arizona to gain the coveted green-building standard. Aloft, which opened in 2008,got news of the certification this week.
The hotel incorporated a recycling program, environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions, a network that controls air-conditioning -and heating systems so it uses less energy when the hotel rooms are not occupied, a heat-island roof effect to deflect sun and lower energy costs, a high-efficiency ventilation system to improve air quality and a number of other mechanisms to improve the environment. The hotel also stocks bicycles for visitors who want an alternative to a car for their jaunts around Tempe.
Green building in the hotel industry has lagged in the western United States compared to the East Coast.
Aloft executives said the project was made easier with support from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the Aloft brand parent company. Aloft Tempe is the seventh LEED-certified property for Starwood.
"We set out with ideas that were really common sense. Using desert plants for less water. Using wood and other sustainable materials. I think when you look at this type building from that perspective it's a lot easier to manage," said Michael Mahoney, chief executive officer of Triyar Hospitality, Aloft's owner and developer.
Mahoney hopes Aloft Tempe will spark a trend to address the growing number of people who want businesses to incorporate environmentally-conscious practices.
"It's tough because there is a large investment in green building up front that you don't see paid back right away," Mahoney said. "The payoff comes in the long run. We're pleased Aloft gets to set an example in Arizona."
Bonnie Richardson, the former chair of Arizona's Green Building Council chapter, is delighted that Tempe has set a standard that she hopes other Valley hotels will follow. Richardson is the project manager for the Tempe Transportation Center, which is seeking the highest LEED certification standard for incorporating a slew of green-building standards.
"We're seeing more and more office buildings seeking LEED standards. Aloft is part of a large chain so I think it's great they're showing that green standards are worth the investment," she said. "Incorporating standards in these large buildings really reduces your cost of operation and at the same time you're helping the environment and attracting customers who care about that. As a corporate strategy, that really makes sense."
Richardson said the environmental impact of building more green hotels will be considerable considering how much water and energy hotels use.
People at Aloft Tempe this week liked that Arizona was building green hotels.
Mike Burke is a hotel developer staying at Aloft during his visit to the Valley. Burke is launching a New York hotel that is using green-building standards. He thinks that as the economy improves more people will be willing to pay a few extra dollars to stay at green hotels.
"As long as we make it reasonable for people you will see a big customer demand," he said.
John Hockley, a cruise and tour planner, got a tour of the hotel Thursday as part of a networking meeting at Aloft. Hockley said he was surprised the hotel was so green considering how luxurious it is.
"I think people want green businesses but they don't want to sleep in some cubby to save the environment," he said. "They did a great job here balancing green with comfort."