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Healdsburg welcomes eco-friendly hotel

A new hotel in Wine Country is setting the bar very high when it comes to going green.
August 20, 2010 7:31:05 PM PDT
It seems like everybody is trying to go green these days and hotels are no exception. Increasingly, hotels around the world are trying to green themselves up to attract a growing number of eco-conscious visitors.

In Sonoma County, Healdsburg is increasingly becoming a destination for tourists visiting Wine Country. It's also where you will find the city's newest hotel.

Jason farmer is director of sales at h2hotel, a new green hotel that opened in July.

"Obviously we are doing this to save money with the hotel itself by saving energy usage, but it's really the future, and really our consumers and our guests really appreciate the value of a green hotel," he said.

Everything from the guest rooms to the lobby was designed with the environment in mind.

"Essentially all of the materials in the interiors and in the hotel are sustainable, that is, they are reused, recycled, local," interior designer Marie Fischer said.

Even the tables in the restaurant are made from reclaimed wood.

"This is all locally harvested, probably within Northern California, but certainly within the larger Bay Area," craftsman Paco Prieto said.

Rather than jumping into a car, you can check out a bike to get around town and of course, a green roof helps top this project off.

"So you can decide to make a building rich and wonderful in various ways, and greenness is one of the good ways to do it because it saves money over the long term, and it's something new we need to do for future generations," architect David Baker said.

The h2hotel is hoping to get LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in the next couple of weeks. They set the standard for environmentally responsible building.

The council says California has more green hospitality projects than anywhere else in the nation. In fact, the number of projects nationally jumped from just one in 2005 to 947 this year.

Colin Johnson is an associate professor in the Department of Hospitality Management at San Francisco State University.

"Most of the major chains have bought into this idea of buying into sustainable development, looking after the environment, but also of course, it was because it produced very attractive cost savings for them" he said.

Johnson says that European hotels are much farther ahead of the U.S. when it comes to greening their hotels. Small hotels like the h2hotel are planting the seeds of change locally, but he says it's just a matter of time before the big chains follow suit.

"I think it's got to happen eventually, all over, not just Northern California or just the U.S., but throughout the world really," he said.

The h2hotel isn't just greening its rooms, it's also cleaning up a nearby creek.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel.


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