[caption id="attachment_22766" align="alignleft" width="269"] The Grow Roof helps reduce cooling costs by insulating the building from the Sun's heat and clean rainwater runoff by allowing it to percolate through the foliage before going into storm drains. (David Baker & Partners Architects photo)[/caption]

HEALDSBURG -- The opening of an ambitious and environmentally conscious hotel is poised to vault Healdsburg even higher among tourist destinations in Sonoma County.

The h2hotel, which will be operated by the owners of the Hotel Healdsburg, the city’s upscale lodging resort, opened on July 1 amid much acclaim for its environmental features and its goal of being a LEED gold project, the second-highest certification possible.

The hotel project began in 2007 and is meant to supplement the more upscale Healdsburg Hotel with lower rates targeting a younger, outdoor-oriented clientele, according to Circe Sher, marketing director for the two hotels.

“It’s eco-conscious, a bit younger and cheaper than Hotel Healdsburg,” she said.

[caption id="attachment_22765" align="alignleft" width="240"] Detail of the Grow Roof. (David Baker & Partners Architects photo)[/caption]

Among the green amenities of the former gas station lot are a growing roof that will be planted with native succulents, which will capture and filter rainwater and help contain energy for the building while providing a habitat for birds and insects.

The $19.5 million, four-story hotel is also undertaking extensive efforts to restore and maintain Foss Creek, which sits just behind the 36-room, approximately 25,000-square-foot property.

According to Ms. Sher, who with her father Martin Sher, Paolo Petrone and John Holt are principal partners, h2hotel will replace invasive plants with native species that will provide food and shelter for wildlife, particularly the endangered steelhead trout that reside in the creek.

[caption id="attachment_22770" align="alignleft" width="448"] Installation of the Grow Roof. (David Baker & Partners Architects photo)[/caption]

Construction efforts also took the creek into account, said Wesley Barry, vice president of Petaluma-based Midstate Construction Corp., which carried out the construction for both Hotel Healdsburg and h2hotel. Architects, contractors and consultants worked with the Russian Riverkeeper and Trout Unlimited organizations to prevent run-off water from entering the creek, and the natural roof will filter rainwater to reduce storm water pollutants.

It was designed with locally sourced materials, Ms. Sher said, and because of the living roof and the efforts to restore the creek, the hotel is confident it will meet LEED gold certification upon inspection.

“That’s going beyond the LEED process because it’s off the property,” she said.

The economic downturn was not lost on those involved with constructing and funding the hotel.

“The completion of the project through the worst economic decline in my lifetime was the biggest challenge,” Mr. Barry said. “And considering how this project started, there was no indication that we would run into the economic woes we did. As we peer into a recovery period, we’re finishing this project up.”

Ms. Sher said early reservations are promising, with about 50 percent of the rooms booked during opening week and more expected as the summer tourism season takes full shape.

“It’s looking good,” she said. “I think bookings are strong in the high season.”h2hotel

219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg; www.h2hotel.com

Construction: Midstate Construction Corp., Petaluma

Architecture: David Baker & Partners, San Francisco

Environmental certification: Seeking gold-level LEED

Principal owners: Circe Sher, Martin Sher, Paolo Petrone and John Halt

Room rates: $195-$295

Design for the hotel was carried out by San Francisco-based David Baker & Partners.

Ms. Sher said the architect was able to achieve small but efficient and comfortable rooms.

“He’s designed [single-room occupancies] in San Francisco, so it’s just a really efficient use of space.”

Interior design elements include recycled wood, bamboo and polished concrete floors.

Rates will range from $195 per night during the week and up to $295 on weekends. At Hotel Healdsburg, rooms can range from as much as $275 to $820.

[caption id="attachment_22768" align="alignleft" width="300"] 60-seat Spoonbar restaurant (David Baker & Partners Architects photo)[/caption]

The new hotel, just a block away from the sister location, was conceived with a more economical yet luxurious atmosphere for a younger audience, Ms. Sher said.

Its 60-seat restaurant, Spoonbar, will be headed by former Odyssey chef Rudy Mihal, and prominent Bay Area artists will have works displayed throughout the hotel, among them Stephen Galloway, a professor of digital arts at Sonoma State University; Christopher Loomis; Katy Stone; and Kathy Aoki.