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"This is a consumer-driven revolution," says Charania, aClarkston, GA-based developer who is building a 143-room CambriaSuites hotel in Atlanta that aims to become the first LEED "gold"certified hotel in the Southeast. "We're talking about changing theway we live."

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As more Americans trade for fuel-efficient hybrid cars and takevarious steps to conserve energy in their homes, Charania believesthey will also want their favorite hotel chains to do the same. Hepoints out that even the federal government, a major user oflodging, is gradually requiring employees to spend the night athotels certified under the US Green Building Council's LEEDprogram.

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The $17-million cost to build a green Cambria Suites representsonly a 4% premium over conventional construction, yet the resultingsavings in utilities should run as much as 40% or $80,000 annually,according to Charania. "As far as the consumer is concerned, theirexpense is not changing," he says.

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Charania could be right on the money, if a survey commissionedby New York City-based Deloitte earlier this year is anyindication. The survey of US business travelers indicates that athird of them seek out environmentally friendly accommodations,while seven out of 10 guests turn out the lights when they leavetheir rooms.

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"Green concerns have made their way to the business traveler'sagenda," says Adam Weissenberg, Deloitte tourism, hospitality andleisure leader. "Business travelers understand the issues and aretrying to do their part in being more environmentally responsiblewhen they are on the road."

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Among the green elements of Charania's hotel, which is set toopen by first quarter 2009 near Atlanta's giant Hartsfield-JacksonInternational Airport, is a 25,000-gallon stormwater recycling tankunderneath the hotel's parking structure, with contents to be usedfor landscape irrigation. Also included is a recycling system fornon-potable or "gray" water from sinks and showers that will beused to flush toilets.

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Charania figures on cutting potable water use by 50% whileoverall water waste will be 70% of the norm. Those are importantconsiderations in Atlanta and other Southern cities that areovercoming years of drought conditions, he says.

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From a cost-savings standpoint, heat sensors wired to afiber-optic network throughout the hotel will be used to adjustlighting and air conditioning in each suite whenever a guest entersor leaves. "We're the only hotel in the country that's doing thisright now," Charania boasts, though he adds that he has no problemwith hospitality competitors stealing the idea.

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Deloitte's survey cites five key environmental actions thatbusiness travelers look for when staying in hotels, with recyclingtopping the list at 77%. Energy-efficient lighting (74%) andwindows (59%) are next, followed by placement of cards in rooms toleave sheets and towels unchanged (52%), and use of environmentallysafe cleaning products (49%).

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At least 70% of Deloitte survey respondents indicate that theybelieve the national lodging industry is only "somewhat" green,with another 23% saying it is not green at all. One in fivebusiness travelers said they stayed at hotels that didn't allowthem to be as green as they wanted, while 30% recall requestingthat sheets and towels not be changed but room service didanyway.

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Charania, who is scheduled among several presenters at nextweek's GreenBusiness Works Expo in Atlanta, says hoteliers need tothink through their efforts toward greening their properties,focusing on those elements that make the most sense. "There is avast difference between decorative LEED and useful LEED," he says."If your hotel is 25 miles from the nearest neighborhood, howuseful is a bike rack going to be?"

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