Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Hotels

by  Liz Webber | Apr 20, 2010
Hay-Adams Hotel
Hay-Adams Hotel / Photo courtesy of the property

With so many hotels touting their “green” credentials these days, it’s hard to figure out which ones are eco-friendly and which are just jumping on the eco-band wagon. Here are our picks for the best “green” hotels, as well as a few resources to find more eco-friendly properties no matter where you’re headed.

The Hay-Adams, Washington, D.C. This historic hotel located across the street from the White House was the first to be awarded the Luxury Eco Certification Standard from non-profit Sustainable Travel International. To earn the award, the Hay-Adams got rid of Styrofoam, paper, and plastic containers; uses eco-friendly cleaning products; and automatically recycles newspapers, white paper, and bottles and cans from guest rooms. To top it off, the luxury hotel recycles its linen by partnering with a local charity called Keys for the Homeless.

Proximity Hotel, Greensboro, NC Proximity was the first hotel to be certified Platinum (the highest level) according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards set out by the U.S. Green Building Council. The hotel’s green credentials include recycling 80 percent of construction waste materials, installing elevators that generate electricity as they descend, and making sure 97 percent of indoor space was illuminated by natural light. Local artists also created original artwork for each of the 147 rooms.

The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Big Island, Hawaii The three-acre solar panel system – providing the hotel’s operating power and the energy needed for daytime water pumping – should be the first clue this Hawaii resort is serious about reducing its carbon footprint. In addition, the Mauna Lani raises sea turtles and releases them into the wild when they are old enough to survive on their own.

The Palazzo, Las Vegas In general, the manmade desert playground of Las Vegas doesn’t get high marks as an eco-destination. However, the Palazzo gets our vote for being one of the Strip’s few LEED-certified buildings (at the Silver level). It’s also the largest LEED-certified building in the world, four times larger than the next certified structure! Green programs range from whimsical valet bike parking to high-tech sensors that regulate guestroom temperatures.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, CO A mere 80 acres of this 5,000 acre ranch have been developed, with the rest preserved for area wildlife – a fact which earned Devil’s Thumb an award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, the property uses geothermal heat from the Earth to heat its buildings and purifies all the waste water it returns to the soil. You’ll also find organic and locally-grown meats and produce in the ranch’s restaurants.

Orchard Hotel and Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco It comes as no surprise that so many green hotels are found in eco-conscious California. These two sister properties in San Francisco boast green credentials on multiple fronts. Both hotels are LEED-certified (the Orchard Garden as a new building and the Orchard as an existing structure) and both meet the Green Seal Environmental Standard for accommodation. The Orchard is also a member of the “Green” Hotels Association. Watch out for top-notch recycling programs and eco-friendly cleaning products.

Further Resources:

  • Green Seal: Browse properties whose practices meet Green Seal’s rigorous scientifically-based standards.
  • LEED: Locate hotels and other buildings whose structures meet the criteria of the U.S. Green Building Council. (There are no separate listings for hotels, but you can search for terms like “hotel” and “resort.”)
  • “Green” Hotels Association: Find accommodations that promote eco-friendly practices.


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