Net-zero Hotels: Six of the best stays for travelers who prioritize sustainability


Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that sheds light on some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In November, we discover the world of hotels and resorts.
(CNN) — As we wrap up the final months of 2022 and look to a new year, there’s a buzz phrase gaining momentum in the world of sustainable travel: net zero hotels. In other words, homes powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
While major hotel groups are making slow progress in reducing carbon emissions, a few smaller players are taking the green lead and tackling the climate challenge head-on, boldly committing to a net-zero future long before the government goals.

Forget carbon neutrality. Soon this term will be exceeded. Net zero goes far beyond simply paying someone else to offset emissions while continuing to rely on fossil fuels for heating and cooling.

Here’s a look at six hotels and resorts that are leading the way.

room2 Chiswick, London

London Chiswick bedroom 2 has a biodiverse green roof that absorbs CO2.

bedroom2

Recognizing the climate crisis, Bedroom 2 owner Robert Godwi spent two years planning a “lifetime” net zero hotel.

This means reducing the carbon footprint from construction to running the hotel, which opened in late 2021.

“The result is a hotel that is 89% more energy efficient and shows what can be done.”

Obviously, net zero energy does not mean net zero luxury.

At first glance, it might look like another designer hotel, with its terracotta floors, pendant lights, and luxurious red velvet bar stools.

Freebies include the power meters in the rooms and a host of unseen features like a geothermal heat pump, water-saving appliances and a “blue roof” that converts rainwater into energy. A biodiverse green roof uses 200 tons of soil and wildflowers to absorb CO2.

room2 Chiswick, 10 Windmill Rd, Chiswick, London, UK; +44 20 3988 0220

Urban Nest Wren, Dublin

Tucked away on a quiet street between Temple Bar and Trinity College, this newcomer claims to be ‘Dublin’s most sustainable place to stay’.

The capsule hotel with 137 pod or “nest” rooms was designed “using advanced carbon reduction technologies,” says architect Michael Mullen.

“The ventilation system captures 81% of the rejected heat using a thermal wheel and heats the incoming fresh air for free,” he adds.

This energy is also used for hot water, while the hotel kitchen snubs gas. Water conservation and low-loss fittings make water demand “about 60% lower than a typical hotel.”

Take a look and you’ll quickly realize that dropping the carbon offsets doesn’t affect the design. Scandinavian minimalism – wood, wicker lights and natural hues – meet Irish textiles and furniture and abundant greenery.

The “Cosy” and “Snug” rooms, measuring just 9.5 to 12 square meters (102 to 129 square feet), are packaged in “compact luxury” with incredible energy efficiency. But that doesn’t rule out Chromecast and super-fast WiFi. Or handmade soaps, locally made mugs and mats, and roast coffee.

Comfort Hotel Solna, Sweden

In June 2021, Scandinavia welcomed its first certified “zero energy” hotel. The 336-room Comfort Hotel Solna sits a few miles north of central Stockholm.

The angular building sports 2,500 square meters of colored solar cells, making it “the most photovoltaic in the world”.

“We produce enough solar power to send a Tesla around the world 50 times!” the hotel boasts on its website. And more than its annual energy needs.

“Nothing is left to chance,” says owner Petter Stordalen. “The elevators charge as they descend to power the ascent. The building is cooled and heated by heat pumps that draw energy from borehole bearings (underground thermal energy storage).

From the maritime-themed rooms to the industrial-chic Barception (the lobby bar), this “energetic” hotel flaunts Nordic design while being relatively easy on the wallet. The light-filled space is outfitted in wood, raw steel, earthy colors, and bakelite bowl-shaped pendant lighting.

Stadthalle Boutique Hotel, Austria

A sustainable oasis in the heart of Vienna.

A sustainable oasis in the heart of Vienna.

Tina Herzl/Boutiquehotel Stadthalle

Long before hotels started touting their zero-emission virtues, it turns out there was a true zero-emission pioneer in Vienna.

In a restored turn-of-the-century house surrounded by solar panels and garden beds, the 79-room Boutiquehotel Stadthalle has been powered by solar and other renewable energy since 2009.

“Zero energy balance might not sound sexy for a hotel,” says owner Michaela Reitterer. “But our customers think so. About 70% stay because of our ‘green at heart’ vision.

“We produce as much energy in a year with a groundwater heat pump, solar panels and photovoltaic technology as we consume. The excess goes into the grid and sometimes in high season we source renewable energy city ​​surplus, such as biomass.”

Quirky rooms feature upcycled wine bottle chandeliers, recycled wood furniture, sheepskin headboards, and Klimt prints. Forget energy-guzzling minibars. Instead, try a few chords on a piano.

Breakfast is served in the inner “oasis” courtyard among pots of herbs, flowers and ivy walls. Above, the lavender roof teems with butterflies and bees.

Hailed as the “green queen” of Vienna, Reitterer says she has taken a very long-term view by betting on renewable energy in her quest to “change the world”, starting with a “stone age of sustainability “.

Hotel Marcel, New Haven, Connecticut

The new Marcel New Haven Hotel, part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, is a 165-room hotel inside the city’s iconic Pirelli building that is “powered only by the sun” and fuses a storied past with a climate-driven future.

It operates independently of fossil fuels, resulting in zero carbon emissions.

The hotel is set to be certified as the first net zero hotel in the United States, while also receiving LEED Platinum and Passive House certifications. (Hotel representatives tell CNN that the net zero certification process requires 12 months of third-party verification and monitoring of various systems.)

“Fossil fuels are very much a 20th century technology, and they are more expensive to use now,” says Bruce Becker, the architect-developer of Hotel Marcel.

“A net zero hotel is truly self-sufficient and produces all the energy it uses.”

The brutalist monument has been transformed using smart building technology, from thermal insulation to an energy harvesting system and air-source heat pumps that transfer outdoor air indoors. Again, that means 80% energy savings, without skimping on style.

“More than 1,000 solar panels generate all the electricity needed to meet the building’s needs,” says Becker.

“Solar panels covering the roof and parking canopies supply 100% of the electricity for lighting, heating, air conditioning and electric car charging stations.”

Behind its gridded concrete facade, the Hilton Tapestry Collection hotel features bespoke walnut furniture, white terracotta tiles and Bauhaus geometric print rugs.

Rooms have touch controls to control temperature, lighting, and automatic blinds. Triple-pane windows and spectacular views of Long Island Sound meet artwork, retro lights, and original wood-paneled walls.

Hotel Marcel, 500 Sargent Dr, New Haven, CT, USA; +1 203 780 7800

Four Elements Hotel, Amsterdam

The Herbs Garden Restaurant at the Four Elements Hotel.

The Herbs Garden Restaurant at the Four Elements Hotel.

four elements

This “eco-luxury” hotel on Amsterdam’s Ijmeer lake went almost unnoticed in 2019.

A BREEAM-certified building in the Ijburg district, the Four Elements Hotel uses wind turbines to produce energy for air conditioning and heating. A solar chimney harvests energy to heat water, while a solar facade of sparkling photovoltaic panels converts energy into electricity.
The idea for “Earth, Wind & Fire” came from engineer Dr. Ben Bronsema, who discovered that African termite mounds stayed the same temperature in extreme weather conditions by opening and closing doors to create “natural air conditioning “.

Never has green been so sexy as on the top floor of the Wind Sky Bar, with its recycled wooden banquettes, exposed pipes, orange pouffes and duck blue fabrics. Meanwhile, the Herbs Garden Restaurant offers traditional fermentation, canning, pickling and smoking.

The decoration of the 195 rooms is also Dutch gezellig cozy. Behind the moss-covered numbers are reclaimed wood floors, repurposed brass headboards, and architectural lighting.


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