Creating a sustainable luxury hotel

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

Owner: Piazza Hotel Group

Description: New construction of four-story, 32,000-square-foot hotel with meeting facilities, restaurant and retail space; designed to LEED Gold standards

Completion: July 2010

Architect: David Baker & Partners, San Francisco

General contractor: Midstate Construction Corp.

[caption id="attachment_27989" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="View from the street (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

HEALDSBURG -- The brand new, award-winning h2hotel opened its doors earlier this year ahead of schedule and well within budget to rave reviews.

H2hotel is owned by Piazza Hotel Group, the same owners of Hotel Healdsburg, the establishment that added a classy, modern touch to the historic city plaza. The newer sister hotel (the h2 in the name means “hotel number 2”), situated a couple of blocks off the plaza, goes several steps further in urban appeal, featuring a four-story sleek, ultra modern concrete exterior with generous accents of wood and glass capped off by a surprising rolling roofline.

This is not your mother’s hotel.

H2hotel is meant to attract more active, sustainability minded Wine Country tourists with its minimalist design, eco-chic decor and environmentally conscious details.

The hotel is designed to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards for new construction to minimize its environmental impact through use of sustainable building materials, reduced energy and water use, and low waste generation. That wavy roof is more than a hip, aesthetic design element; it’s a combined living roof/cool roof with plants that filter rainwater, (conserving water while protecting the city’s storm drain system and nearby Foss Creek) and light-colored paving that keeps the overall building cooler.

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The hotel features 36 guest rooms and suites, meeting facilities and a lanai-like public commons area on the ground floor with a restaurant and bar as well as retail and business spaces. All the expected features and amenities of a well-appointed hotel are present – and all with a sustainable, environmentally conscious twist.

You can still opt for the elevator over the stairs, but you’ll be riding in a gearless traction system that requires 60 percent less energy than conventional elevators and is made out of recycled materials. If you do opt for the stairs, you’ll be treading on salvaged lumber used liberally throughout the hotel for flooring, decking and furnishings. All other non-reclaimed wood in the hotel was acquired through suppliers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for responsible forest management.

The majority of all materials purchased or fabricated for the hotel came from within 100 miles of the site and contain mostly recycled content. All the interior paints, coatings, sealants and composite wood products are non-toxic with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds that can negatively affect human health and the environment).

All art and custom furnishings are made by local artisans. Guest rooms have smart sensors to switch off lights and air conditioning when the room is empty. Windows are dual pane with special glazing to maximize efficiency. Water carafes and glasses are made from recycled bottles. Rugs, curtains, sheets, towels and robes are made out of chemical-free, fair trade textiles and fibers. Water for showering in the guest rooms and swimming in the pool is solar heated.

[caption id="attachment_27991" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="One of the rooms (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

The restaurant and bar serves food and drinks made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients as much as possible to reduce packaging. The hotel grounds are landscaped with native, drought-tolerant plants. Free bicycle parking is meant to encourage alternative modes of transportation; the hotel even provides guests with bicycles to use for free.

Architects David Baker & Partners and Midstate Construction Corp. worked together on the first Hotel Healdsburg project. Both companies are well versed in LEED/Build it Green standards. The well-established partnership between the two companies and the hotel owners enabled the project to move forward during a time of relative austerity, proving that going green doesn’t have to break the bank – or skimp on comfort and style.

“H2hotel was constructed during a unique time when new construction and hospitality projects were on hold due to the economy. Midstate worked with the developer for more than 1.5 years on cost analysis and feasibility,” said Eric Bostrom, marketing coordinator for Midstate Construction.

“LEED/BIG certification requires layers of coordination between all parties to ensure material recycling, composition and usage adheres and applies to green ideals. The entire project team worked together to make this project an aesthetic and budgetary success. We also managed to achieve the grand opening two months ahead of the contract completion date thanks to the city of Healdsburg’s assistance and accommodations along the way.”

Midstate Construction built the first Build it Green multi-family project in Sonoma County, the 58-unit Casa Grande Senior Residential Apartments. In tandem with the h2hotel project, Midstate also managed the Pepperwood Preserve, a 3,000-acre nature preserve with a building housing a field research laboratory, classrooms and library – another LEED Gold project and a 2009 NBBJ Top Construction Project winner.

For David Baker & Partners, sustainability is more then a design trend. It is integrated into all of the firm’s business and day-to-day operations as a San Francisco-certified green business. The h2hotel project represented an opportunity to reprise the success of the Healdsburg Hotel design-build team while demonstrating that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

“From a design perspective, the main challenge in creating a sustainable luxury hotel is dealing with the water use. Guests at high-end hotels expect high-end showers, not low-flow fixtures. You need to find other ways to mitigate water use, such as collecting and filtering rainwater from the green roof. Similarly you need to create a feeling of opulence with your lighting but find a way to do that with low-energy fixtures,” explained Jessica Cunningham, marketing director for David Baker & Partners.

“But one of the most special things about h2hotel is its extreme localness. Not only does it create a hotel with a great story and a great sense of space, it supports the local community and really reduces the carbon footprint of the enterprise because things are not being shipped across the country or around the world. It all takes extra commitment on every person's part.”