Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Hotels are Harnessing the Sun

Not surprisingly, the energy-saving sector is heating up. And on the sweltering sidewalks of Las Vegas, tourists will soon be taking note. Recently, Mandalay Bay Resort announced a solar investment - a steep price that will include 20,000 panels plus O&M cost - that will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes. 

Only the Vegas strip, it seems, could pull off a project that needs nearly 20 acres of sunlit roof space. But the arid desert is hardly the only region reaping the rewards of photovoltaic panels. In the colder climate of Colorado, where temps average in the 20-degree Fahrenheit range December through February, hotels in both Boulder and Golden have implemented solar panels to offset their carbon emissions.

So, how can you pin-point a sun-harnessing hotel for your next trip? It's not as easy as you might think (as in, I assumed googling "solar hotels in u.s." would get me the answer). There is no objective, master database of green hotels, let alone those that have ponied up for solar panels, but a good place to start is to search for LEED certified hotels. (Check out our listing here.) While not all LEED properties boast solar investments, many of them have included smaller installations to offset the energy consumption of guests.

Can't find a solid solar solution in your desired destination? Look for these green perks instead: 
  • LEED certification (aim to choose Gold or Platinum properties, when possible)
  • Alternative fuel or electric vehicle transportation (for airport transfers and local jaunts)
  • Eco-friendly cleaning supplies and services (avoid harsh chemicals or excessive washing of sheets and towels on multiple-night stays)
  • Organic on-site gardens (allowing restaurant chefs to use their own produce)
  • Locally sourced menus (regional meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables support local farmers and also emit far less carbon than a cross-country vendor)
  • Green roof (to keep buildings cooler inside, and naturally better looking, too)

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