MENLO PARK, CA—Sustainability is no longer a trend, it’s standard practice for many new-build hotel projects. Hotel Nia, a newly opened Autograph Collection property in Silicon Valley, earned the distinction as a LEED Certified Silver building.
Developed by Ensemble Investments with architectural design by Cuningham Group Architecture and LEED Engineering by Integral Group, the award represents a milestone achievement for the 11-story, 250-room hotel and reaffirms its commitment to sustainability and green practices.
“As the hotel developer, Ensemble embraced the opportunity to deliver a hotel that is built and operates as a resource-saving green hotel for the community and guests,” said Conrad Garner, SVP, development services, Ensemble Real Estate Investments. “Along with our design team, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing engineers, architects, interior designers, and the general contractor, we strived to weave sustainability into the project from the beginning.”
The zoning approvals for the overall Menlo Gateway master development project, the specified area of Menlo Park where Hotel Nia is located, required a significant commitment to sustainable design and practices. These requirements pertain to the collective master plan area as well as each individual building. Within this, the hotel was required to meet LEED Silver certification, which represents the top level for sustainable actions for buildings in U.S.
In a Q&A with Hotel Business, Garner explains the road to certification and how it was successfully achieved.
Let’s talk about what it takes to get to LEED certification and the coordination among teams to bring this goal to life.
The energy-modeling demands on the project were extensive, and our LEED consultant, Integral Group, was constantly providing feedback to the team on impacts of design decisions and product choices. They ran our scorecard and really steered the effort to achieve the silver certification.
What are the components and internal operations that make Hotel Nia a LEED-certified building?
From start to finish, the project incorporated sustainable attributes that helped it achieve the certification and maintain a green building. The construction process alone had more than 85% waste diversion. Additionally, other features include daylighting in over 75% of occupied spaces and views to the outdoors for more than 90% of occupants. Some 28% of the total building materials content, by value, has been manufactured using recycled materials, and 38.41% of the total building materials value includes materials and products that have been manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site. This represents a decrease in virgin materials needed and the environmental impacts from production and transportation of building materials.
A specific challenge was to marry four-star level of quality with the low-flow plumbing fixtures. We went through five sets of guestroom plumbing fixtures to find the right one that achieved our expectations on both. The project reduced potable water usage below typical levels by 30.33%.
Our landscape architect, Lifescapes International, tested multiple plant palettes and design solutions to create the finished product. They balanced native species with drought-tolerant groups in order to minimize irrigation demands. Additionally, we utilized synthetic turf in our outdoor event lawn to avoid watering demands all together in over 4,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space.
All appliances throughout the Porta Blu and the hotel are EnergyStar-level certified. Our mechanical systems represent some of the highest efficiencies on the market. Through these efforts the property achieved an energy cost savings of 21.81%. The project utilized equipment, including a refrigerant that poses a lower threat to global warming, and an enhanced commissioning process was included to verify proper equipment performance in the building.
Low emitting products and materials, and Indoor Chemical Pollutant Source controls requirements, were all achieved, increasing indoor air quality for occupants of the hotel.
We provided electrical vehicle charging stations for 11% of the parking capacity at the property.
Storm water runoff from 90% of the average annual rainfall is captured and treated to remove 80% of the average annual post-development total suspended solids (TSS).
What does it mean for the hotel development, design, engineering teams and others involved to have achieve LEED Certified Silver on this project?
The finished product of Hotel Nia speaks for itself: a beautiful blend of high design and luxurious appointments brought together through environmentally conscious engineering and sustainable construction methods. Guests of Hotel Nia can relax or conduct business in a space that provides healthy and comfortable indoor environments, access to daylight, environmentally friendly features and technology—all while feeling good about staying in a hotel built to have a positive impact on the environment.