The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte awarded LEED Gold

CHARLOTTE, NC. – The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, the first environmentally-built hotel for greater Charlotte, was presented with LEED Gold Certification at a major press event in Charlotte this morning. The rare achievement, awarded in the New Construction category, was announced to hotel General Manager David Rothwell by Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council. It represents the first LEED designation attained by a Ritz-Carlton hotel or resort.

The 146-room Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte opened in October 2009 with a roster of environmental services and features that have ultimately qualified it for LEED Gold certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a multi-category green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Certification is awarded to select properties based on their site sustainability, water efficiency, energy use and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design for a new building, or innovation in operations for an existing building. The hotel will seek LEED Gold Existing Building certification in 2011, with such dual certification anticipated to set a new benchmark for the luxury hotel industry.

Today’s press conference also introduced the hotel’s new mascot, Mother Nature, a hotel employee who will lead the hotel’s eco-friendly children’s programs. Wearing a custom-designed green gown created by eco-couture wedding designer Adele Wechsler, who was on hand for the fashionable debut, Mother Nature will enliven the property’s environmentally-minded features and services for young guests and the local community. From bringing educational toys and games via a green wagon to children staying at the hotel, to providing them with story-telling, tuck-in service and the proverbial spoonful of organic sugar, Mother Nature will be a highly visible figure at the LEED-certified property. Mother Nature’s job description also includes conducting environmental education experiences, local public appearances, hotel eco-tours, area recycling events and local charitable programs.

A further highlight of the day’s agenda was a public tour of the green, vegetated roof of the 18-story Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. The energy-conserving roof is home to 18,000 sedum plants, a chef’s herb garden cultivated for hotel culinary purposes, and the hotel’s two new fully-contained bee hives, which will assist in pollination and provide all-natural honey for the hotel. Seventy pounds of chemical-free raw honey are expected to be generated by each hive this year, depending upon foraging schedules, weather and nectar flow.

Also this week, and in honor of Earth Day, The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is hosting several dozen local elementary school children and their chaperones for an organic lunch and environmental tour of the hotel and its green roof. Further property activities this week include a city cleanup initiative by hotel employees, planting of green roofs adjacent to the hotel’s own roof, operation of a community electronics recycling drive, and a regional farmers’ market open to the public and presented alongside the hotel tomorrow, Earth Day.

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