[IMGCAP(1)]For years now, business and leisure travelers have become familiar with those little cards that suggest they hang up towels and their sheets will not be changed daily to save water. A few might even find a separate bin for recycling newspapers and plastic. This was, pretty much, the definition of green for hotels.

That’s beginning to change, however, as the hospitality sector is discovering the benefits of going green, and have a metric for measuring their sustainability beyond the merely cosmetic. Virtually unthought of even a year ago, today, 451 hotels have either achieved or registered for LEED certification, according to the United States Green Building Council. And the largest LEED certified building in the world is the Palazzo Las Vegas.

“This is the fastest commercial market segment we have,” says Marc Heisterkamp, director of commercial real estate of the USGBC, Washington, DC. “Just 12 months ago, no one wanted to go beyond laundry [conservation].”

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