Starwood Capital to Develop 'Green' Luxury Hotels

Starwood Capital Group today announced plans to develop a chain of luxury hotels that will adhere to state-of-the-art standards for environmentally friendly construction, thus giving a big boost to what is known as the green building movement.

Starwood Capital is led by Barry Sternlicht, who as chairman and chief executive of Starwood Hotels built the company into a major force in the lodging industry before departing last year. The two Starwood companies are separately managed.

'With such critical issues facing us as foreign energy dependence and global warming, we cannot afford to ignore the growing consumption of our natural resources and the inability to sustain our enterprises,' said Sternlicht, explaining the environmentally sensitive approach of his new venture.

Sternlicht's new, international luxury brand is called '1' Hotel and Residences and will incorporate, as the name implies, private residences as well as hotel rooms.

Sternlicht said he plans to sign construction deals on 15 hotels within the next two years, with locations in major U.S. markets such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

The initial four properties in the United States are to be new construction. The first hotel is expected to open in Seattle in late 2008, followed by '1' hotels in the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, in California; Scottsdale; and Ft. Lauderdale.

The first international '1' hotel will open in Paris as a renovation of a historic property.

Each new '1' will be built to standards set forth by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The LEED standards were created by the U.S. Green Building Council and is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings.

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

'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.'

Each property will donate one percent of its revenue to local environmental organizations, guided by a steering committee that will include representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A leading environmental organization, the NRDC is also serving as an advisor to '1'.