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VOL. 123 | NO. 221 | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Memphis’ First Green Hotel to Be Built Near Wolfchase

By Eric Smith

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NEW AGE: Memphis-based CBH Hospitality LLC is building the city’s first LEED-certified hotel, a La Quinta Inns and Suites that will rise on 1.7 acres at 2839 New Brunswick Road near the Wolfchase Galleria. The $5-million, 67-room hotel will have a windmill and solar panels to generate its power. -- RENDERING COURTESY OF CBH HOSPITALITY LLC

“Green” hotels might be all the rage on the West Coast, but they haven’t exactly caught on in the Mid-South.

That soon will change thanks to Memphis-based CBH Hospitality LLC, which is building the city’s first LEED-certified hotel, a La Quinta Inns and Suites that will rise on 1.7 acres at 2839 New Brunswick Road near the Wolfchase Galleria.

The company broke ground last week with completion slated for August or September 2009. Boone & Sons Inc. is the contractor and Ben Baggett Architect Inc. is the architect for the project.

The hotel, replete with windmill and solar panels, will contain three stories, 67 rooms and 45,000 square feet. Its $5 million price tag is more expensive than a non-green hotel of equal size would cost, but Bhavesh Patel, one of CBH Hospitality’s principals, likens the return on investment to that of a popular automobile.

“You might pay a little bit more up front, but it’s worth it because you’ve done two things: You’ve saved money in the long run, and you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. And that’s our goal.”
– Bhavesh Patel
Principal, CBH Hospitality LLC

“We’re building a hybrid version of a car in a hotel – the (Toyota) Prius of the hotel industry is what this is,” Patel said. “You might pay a little bit more up front, but it’s worth it because you’ve done two things: You’ve saved money in the long run, and you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. And that’s our goal.”

Forward-looking investment

CBH Hospitality, whose other principals are Hitu Bhakta and Tom Pittman, acquired the parcel of land in an $848,000 quitclaim in March. Last week the company filed a $5.5 million construction loan through Hardin County Bank to build the hotel, with extra money added into the financing in case expenses related to building green arise during construction.

“Is it worth it? Yes, it definitely is, from the standpoint of you’re doing the right thing,” Patel said. “The other side of it is at the end of the day you’re getting a more efficient building. We wanted to be good stewards of the earth, basically do our part.”

CBH Hospitality is doing its part in numerous ways. First, the La Quinta Inn’s power will be generated by wind and sun, but the hotel also was designed to operate with less energy consumption, reducing its carbon output as well as its need for coal-generated electricity.

“For every little bit we reduce, it exponentially reduces the amount that the power plant has to produce,” Patel said. “If we have 30 percent less demand, the power plant has to produce maybe 60 percent less electricity for us.”

Also, 95 percent of construction waste is going to be recycled with hopes of limiting what goes into a landfill, Patel said. And the hotel’s furniture – beds, nightstands, dressers and desks – and its doors will be built from wood harvested from certified, sustainable forests.

“Wherever we can use certified wood we’re doing it, so we know it’s not coming from a forest that’s cut and burn,” Patel said.

The La Quinta also will have an aggressive recycling program for staff and guests, a composting program and a rainwater harvesting system for the grounds’ landscaping needs.

Action instead of words

Jim Lutz is former professor of architecture at the University of Memphis and project director for the school’s Center for Sustainable Design. Lutz heads the sustainable design demonstration house in the Uptown neighborhood, and he was pleased with news of another green development coming to Memphis.

“Any step in that direction is the right step. I’m thrilled to hear about that,” Lutz said.

The La Quinta isn’t the only green project going on in Memphis. The Memphis Area Home Builders Association has begun helping local builders earn the Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation, offered through the National Association of Home Builders.

That certification joins Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division’s EcoBUILD program and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines.

But CBH Hospitality isn’t just helping the environment; the company will donate 50 percent of the hotel’s proceeds to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi for education and technology. The stewardship is all in the name of conservation and community.

“We hear about it in the news and we hear people talking about it, but no one’s really doing anything,” Patel said. “We were like, ‘Let’s do something about it, take a step in the right direction.’”

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