Starwood Capital goes green

The first five environmentally luxury hotel properties under the private equity real estate firm’s new “1” concept will hit markets in Seattle, Paris, California, Arizona and Florida.

Starwood Capital Group has announced plans for a “green” hotel concept called “1” Hotel and Residences, which the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm is billing as the first “luxury, eco-friendly global hotel brand.”

“With such critical issues facing us as foreign energy dependence and global warming, we cannot afford to ignore the growing consumption of our natural resources and the inability to sustain our enterprises,” Starwood founder Barry Sternlicht said in a prepared statement.

Starwood will bring in environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council as an environmental advisor and will donate one percent of the revenue from each property to local environmental organizations chosen by a steering committee on which the NRDC will sit.

According to Starwood, the “1” concept will go beyond the usual efforts to conserve energy that some hotels put forth to minimize each property’s environmental impact.

“While some hotel brands pay lip service to the environment by asking guests to reuse towels and adding plants to the lobby, ‘1’ is not using eco-friendly jargon simply as a marketing tool,” Sternlicht adds.

All of the hotels will conform to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the nationally accepted industry standards drafted by the US Green Building Council. The standards govern water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable site development, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The “1” concept will build its first four hotels in the US from the ground up. Its initial offering in Seattle is expected to open in late 2008, followed by properties near ski resort Mammoth Mountain in California, Scottsdale, Arizona and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Its first European offering will be a renovation of a historic property in Paris.

Starwood also expects the concept to enter New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and other major urban and resorts markets within the next 12 months, with a view toward having 15 hotels under construction within the next two years.