Greensboro, North Carolina
Proximity is one of the greenest hotels in the country, incorporating more than 70 sustainable practices. Although certification is still pending, the hotel’s developer and CEO, Dennis Quaintance, is confident that the 147-room building will achieve LEED Platinum after less than a year of operation. “We currently have 54 points, and it takes 52 to make Platinum,” he says. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Marc Heisterkamp calls the hotel’s green strategies “intelligently thought through.” Combining geothermal and solar-energy technology, Proximity uses 41 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than conventional hotels of a comparable size. One hundred solar panels line 4,000 square feet of the roof, providing an expected 60 percent of annual hot-water needs for the hotel and restaurant (or enough for 100 homes). The restaurant’s refrigeration system draws from geothermal wells. Guest rooms feature units that recover energy from the air the hotel exhausts, heating or cooling it by as much as 15 degrees and thus minimizing the load on the HVAC system. But the most innovative eco-feature is probably Proximity’s regenerative elevators: compact, gearless machines with a special drive system that captures energy normally released during braking. After feeding those forces back into the building’s grid, the energy usage is reduced by up to 50 percent when compared with typical elevators. Proximity’s are the first of their kind to be installed in the United States.