LEED-certified Element Times Square opens in New York City. Photo: Element
While the greenest vacation is often a staycation, it's nice to know that when you do travel, whether it be for business or pleasure, a hotel can meet you half way.
Enter the LEED-certified The Element Times Square, the newest property by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which is pursuing LEED certification for all of their hotels, from Lexington, Massachusetts to Las Vegas, Nevada. The Element hosted me for a complimentary stay in New York City and I got a first-hand look at the hotel's green design and amenities. Take a look:
The lobby at Element Times Square.
Based on The Element's LEED Gold-certified Lexington, MA hotel, the brand was approved for the U.S. Green Building Council's new Volume Program, which awards pre approval for building prototypes. This saves developers time, money, and resources. Architects from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide collaborated with George Wong Design in New York to adapt the Element prototype design to an urban landscape.
Don't be fooled by it's name, the "Greenhouse" offers ample light for guests (not plants).
What Makes a Hotel "Green?" Energy, Waste, and Water.
As TreeHugger's Pablo points our in his article on what makes a hotel "green," there are three main areas: energy, waste, and water.
At Element, each guest rooms contains low flow fixtures, which save 5,300 gallons of water per room each year; compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less energy; Energy Star rated appliances, recycling bins, and of course, signage that encourages guests to hang your towel if you want to use it again or leave it on the floor if you don't, which is simply common sense.
Throughout the hotel, Element makes use of an Energy Management System (EMS), which regulates the lighting and temperature of guest and meeting rooms. The system saves energy and thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs each year. In the bath, you'll find amenities in a dispenser rather than multiple mini-bottles.
Impressive kitchenette's in each room guest room make it ideal for longer stays.
As for the interior decoration details, Element has chosen carpets, furniture and floors made from recycled content and has utilized recycled tires as a base to mount wall art. In addition, low VOC paints have been used in all guest rooms and public spaces. Each room has a kitchenette, featuring a counter made with post-consumer recycled content and filtered water, and furniture made with recycled and organic materials.
Complimentary breakfast for guests at Element.
Standard amenities are also included, such as a complimentary healthy breakfast each morning, access to a fitness center, and free Wi-Fi.
Green Transport: EV Charging Stations and Free Bikes
As a guest in one of Element's 411 guest rooms, you'll have access to complimentary bikes to borrow. The Hudson River is a few blocks west of the hotel, which has a bike path worth bragging about. If you'd rather look at the river from afar you can view it from Element's rooftop terrace, which is not worth bragging about but it will do the trick if you're looking for some fresh air -- as fresh as New York City air can be -- without leaving the hotel.
Rooftop view at Element Time Square: what you see is what you get.
All photos: The Element Time Square
If you drove to the hotel in a hybrid car, you get to be a "VIP" for the duration of your stay, meaning you get priority parking. If you drove electric, you're in luck, too, since Element has Google-mapped ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations for electric cars -- this would probably make you a "VVIP." They are located across the street from the hotel and are free for hotel guests.
Starting at $254 per night (for one adult), the Element Times Square is a more affordable stay -- and in this case it's more comfortable than glamorous -- than some of Starwood's other properties, which include The St. Regis and W hotels.
Visit The Element Times Square for more.