Finding The Green Hotels

The luxury of a hotel stay comes along with more than the price of the room; tourism accounts for at least five percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

However, tourism also accounts for major economic booms for cities like Chicago. The obvious compromise is to go green.

"From the visitors perspective, you can have a hotel more wise in energy, a hotel in indoor air quality," said Doug Wiedner, Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council of Chicago.

But how do we know who is really green? Weidner said there are at least two seals to look for.

"LEED has more than one certification.  There's one for design and construction, and one for operations and maintenance; then Green Seal also has certification program for hotels that use energy and water more efficiently, those who purchase sustainable products and finally those who take into account the indoor air quality," Weidner explained.

There are a handful of Green Seal hotels in the city, but one hotel not on that list is trying to become the first LEED Silver Certified Hotel in Chicago: Hotel Felix. Hotel Arista in Naperville is also on track with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification . Formerly known as the old Hotel Wacker, the old facade was kept -- which is the greenest thing to do -- but the rest was gutted. One of the more interesting attributes includes the motion sensor thermostat.

The green part of the project cost about a million dollars, but the hotel's General Manager thinks it'll be worth it.

"We save $12,000 a year in water, $145,000 total. And the return is like two years," said Mike Zels.

They save, and with introductory prices at Hotel Felix starting at just $129/night, consumers ultimately save.  As an added bonus, the hotel gives hydrid vehicle driers free valet.

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