Source: Korea Times
by Kim Se-jeong
"The Grand Hyatt Incheon has become the latest hotel in Korea to earn a green building certificate for its 500-room new wing which opened in September last year.
The hotel received a LEED Gold Certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
"Our LEED Gold Certificate is the result of our efforts, and we will continue to do our best to offer a healthy and clean environment for guests by reducing waste and introducing other eco-hotel practices," the hotel's general manager Paul Wright said in a statement.
A LEED Platinum Certificate is the highest that can be achieved, followed by the "Certified" and "Silver" certificates.
To complete the certification program, the Grand Hyatt Incheon needed to meet the USGBC's 70 requirements, which start from a building's construction stage.
For example, it had to store wastewater to be used for flushing toilets and gardening. It also had to install a ventilation system in each room to prevent the sick building syndrome, a health problem related to poor indoor air quality, as well as LED light bulbs in the entire building. Finally, the hotel also had to create a garden with trees on the second floor event deck to cover the wooden floor and keep the building's temperature low.
The LEED certification program is voluntary and includes a certification fee.
More and more businesses, especially those with new buildings, are opting to do the program. "We can expect a positive trend toward more environment-friendly hotels and therefore an increase of green-certified hotels," said Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Millennium Destinations, a Seoul-based organization dedicated to sustainable tourism marketing, promotion and education.
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul also achieved a LEED Gold Certificate last year.
Does a green building certificate help hotels attract more guests?
Germier-Hamel doesn't think so. She says hotels should not expect that.
"Hotel businesses should just view green certification as an official acknowledgement of their efforts to integrate green practices into their operations," she said. However, she added, "in the future, green certification may become a basic standard rather than a competitive advantage."