Forget carbon neutral. Soon that term will be gone. Net-zero goes way beyond simply paying someone else to offset emissions and still relying on fossil fuels for heating and cooling.
Here’s a look at six hotels and resorts leading the way.
room2 Chiswick, London
London’s room2 Chiswick has a biodiverse green roof that absorbs CO2.
Robert Godwi, owner of room2, recognized the climate crisis and spent two years planning a “lifelong” net-zero hotel.
That means reducing the carbon footprint from construction to running the hotel, which opened in late 2021.
“The result is a hotel that is 89% more energy efficient and shows what is possible.”
It is clear that net zero energy does not mean net zero luxury.
At first glance, it may seem like just another design hotel, with its terracotta floors, hanging lamps and sumptuous red velvet bar stools.
Giveaways include the power sensors in rooms and a host of invisible elements such as a ground source heat pump, water-saving fixtures and a ‘blue roof’ that converts rainwater into energy. A biodiverse green roof uses 200 tons of soil and wildflowers to absorb CO2.
Wren Urban Nest, Dublin
Tucked away on a quiet street between Temple Bar and Trinity College, this newcomer bills itself as “Dublin’s most enduring place to stay”.
The 137 pod-room or “nests” capsule hotel was designed “using advanced carbon reduction technologies,” says architect Michael Mullen.
“The ventilation system captures 81% of the heat dissipated using a thermal wheel and heats the incoming fresh air for free,” he adds.
That energy is also used for hot water, while the hotel kitchen blunts gas. Water conservation and low-loss fixtures mean water consumption is “approximately 60% lower than in a typical hotel”.
Look inside and you’ll soon realize that throwing out carbon offsets has no impact on design. Scandinavian minimalism – wood, wicker lamps and natural tones – meets Irish textiles and furniture, and abundant greenery.
“Cozy” and “Cozy” bedrooms, only 9.5-12 square meters (102-129 square feet), wrapped in “compact luxury” with amazing energy efficiency. But that doesn’t rule out Chromecast and lightning-fast Wi-Fi. Or handmade soaps, locally made mugs and rugs and roasted coffee.
Comfort Hotel Solna, Sweden
In June 2021, Scandinavia welcomed its first certified “zero-energy” hotel. The 336-room Comfort Hotel Solna is located a few kilometers north of central Stockholm.
The angular building has 2,500 square feet of colorful solar cells, making it “the most photovoltaic density in the world.”
“We generate enough solar energy to send a Tesla around the world 50 times!” the hotel shows off on its website. And more than its annual energy needs.
“Nothing is left to chance,” says owner Petter Stordalen. “The elevators charge as they descend to power the ascent. The building is cooled and heated by heat pumps that draw energy from borehole bearings (underground thermal energy storage).
From the maritime-themed rooms to the industrial-chic Barception (the bar reception), this “energy-smart” hotel flaunts Scandinavian design while being relatively easy on the wallet. The light-filled space features wood, raw steel, earthy colors and Bakelite pendant lighting.
Boutique Hotel Stadthalle, Austria
A sustainable oasis in the heart of Vienna.
Tina Herzl/Boutiquehotel Stadthalle
Long before hotels started touting their net-zero virtues, Vienna turned out to be a true zero-emissions pioneer.
The 79-room Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is housed in a restored turn-of-the-century house surrounded by solar panels and garden beds. It has been operating on solar energy and other renewable energy sources since 2009.
“An energy-neutral balance may not sound sexy for a hotel,” says owner Michaela Reitterer. “But our guests think so. About 70% stay because of our ‘green at heart’ vision.
“With a groundwater heat pump, solar panels and photovoltaic technology, we generate as much energy in a year as we consume. Excess goes into the grid and sometimes we get a surplus of renewable energy from the city, such as biomass, during the high season.”
The quirky rooms show off chandeliers made from recycled wine bottles, upcycled wooden furniture, sheep heads and Klimt prints. Forget energy-guzzling minibars. Try playing a few chords on a piano instead.
Breakfast is in the “oasis” in the courtyard between herb pots, flowers and walls with ivy. Upstairs, the lavender roof is bursting with butterflies and bees.
Hailed as Vienna’s “Green Queen,” Reitterer says she had a very long-term vision, betting on renewables in her quest to “change the world,” starting in a “sustainable Stone Age.”
Hotel Marcel, New Haven, Connecticut
Part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, the new Hotel Marcel New Haven is a 165-room hotel in the city’s iconic Pirelli Building that is “powered exclusively by the sun” and blends a storied past with a climate-focused future.
It operates independently of fossil fuels, resulting in zero carbon emissions.
“Fossil fuels are really a 20th century technology and they are more expensive to run now,” says Bruce Becker, the architect-developer behind Hotel Marcel.
“A net-zero hotel is truly self-sufficient and generates all the energy it consumes.”
“More than 1,000 solar panels generate all the electricity to meet the building’s needs,” says Becker.
“Solar panels that cover the roof and parking canopies provide 100% electricity for lighting, heating, cooling and charging stations for electric cars.”
Behind the gridded concrete facade, the Hilton Tapestry Collection hotel shows off walnut furniture, white terracotta tiles, and Bauhaus geometric print rugs — all custom designed.
The rooms have touchpad controls for temperature, lighting and automatic blinds. Triple-pane windows and dramatic views of Long Island Sound meet curated art, retro lighting, and original wood paneling.
Four Elements Hotel, Amsterdam
The Herbs Garden restaurant at the Four Elements Hotel.
This “eco-luxury” hotel on the edge of Amsterdam’s IJmeer crept in almost unnoticed in 2019.
Green has never looked so sexy as from the top floor Wind Sky Bar, with its recycled wood benches, exposed pipes, orange poufs and peacock blue fabrics. Meanwhile, the Herbs Garden restaurant loves traditional fermentation, preservation, canning and smoking.
The interior of the 195 rooms is also cozy and cozy in the Netherlands. Behind the moss-encased numbers lie salvaged wood floors and repurposed brass headboards and architectural lighting.