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Starwood Capital Group to Create Green Luxury Hotel Brand

The Starwood Capital Group recently announced plans to build a chain of luxury green hotel properties, the first of which will open in Seattle in 2008. The brand will be called “1,” for the one percent of revenue that each property will donate to local environmental groups, chosen by a steering committee constituted, in part, by members of the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC also serves as an advisor to “1.”

Each hotel will be built to some level of LEED certification and Starwood hopes to have deals in place within two years for a total of fifteen green hotels in the U.S. A historic property in Paris will also be renovated into 1′s first international green hotel.

“While some hotel brands pay lip service to the environment by asking guests to reuse towels, and adding plants to a lobby, “1″ is not using eco-friendly jargon simply as a marketing tool,” said Sternlicht. “Our intention with “1″ is to build hotels and residences that are truly green and minimize their impact on their environment.”

Sternlicht, who runs Starwood Capital, is the former head of Starwood Hotels, which is a separately managed company. This announcement is certainly great news for green building, but it raises some interesting questions. What will LEED itself look like when these properties get built? To what level of certification will they aspire? Presumably Starwood has done its research with respect to pricing for a luxury green hotel- what kind of premium are people willing to pay for such accomodations? Will the one percent donation from each property come from such a premium?

Regardless, Starwood is an industry heavyweight and its making such a significant investment in the future of green building should not go unnoticed and is definitely something to keep tabs on.

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