Let’s face it. Not every hotel has been built with sustainability in mind. In fact, most existing hotels were constructed at times where environmental best practice played only a minor role. Turning such an existing accommodation inside out to make it “green” is a challenge.
Hostal Grau in Barcelona has done just that and created an eco-chic hotel with boutique flair, right in the center of this very popular Mediterranean city destination. We visited Hostal Grau with its 19 rooms when renovations were still in full swing and left impressed by its dedication to make the renovation part as environmentally friendly as possible.
In this interview, learn why Monica Grau, the family hotel’s owner and manager, decided to turn her popular hotel inside out with the assistance of LEED certification, and what she would have done different in hindsight.
- How Hostal Grau approaches sustainability;
- Why the hotel opted to obtain the LEED certification program, and whether Monica would recommend it to other hoteliers;
- Lessons learned from renovating an old building in alignment with sustainability criteria;
- How to measure hotel sustainability performance;
- Monica’s thoughts on the state of tourism sustainability in Barcelona.
Monica, how do you approach sustainability at Hostal Grau in Barcelona?
Our Hostal Grau has gone through some major renovations since 2013, an opportunity to turn the historic building inside out and to rebuild its interior using state-of-the-art natural, ecological and sustainable elements. During the renovation we took extra care that materials used were PVC (polyvinyl chloride) free and the painting natural, non-toxic. Rockwool makes for some great soundproofing between the rooms. Moreover, all wood used was from sustainable sources (FSC certification), and all removed furniture was given to charity or properly recycled.
Throughout the renovations process, we worked with the LEED program for advice on best practice, and are now on the way to become the first LEED-certified hotel in Barcelona.
At Hostal Grau you will sleep on handmade beds, complete with cocomat and naturalmat mattresses. Our bedrooms have double glazed windows, which blocks out just enough street noise for a good night’s sleep in the heart of Barcelona.
In our daily operations, the housekeeping staff use organic cleaning products, and guests are highly recommended to consume Km Zero products from the ground floor cafe Centric Bar. We also encourages the use of bicycles while visiting Barcelona, which are available from a nearby bike rental shop.
Why the LEED Green Building Certification Program?
LEED is for buildings, and we wanted an internationally recognized standard that applies the same principles and criteria to all kind of buildings and uses, regardless of its main activity. Moreover, LEED honors the Cradle to Cradle vision to some extent, and goes well beyond energy efficiency.
Would you recommend LEED certification to other small hotels?
Yes, of course, it has been our guide and our project management tool for the project. LEED and the LEED advisory team was our beacon along the process, otherwise we couldn’t have made it, it’s not our core business.
If you could start renovations again, what would you do different?
Quite some things, starting with a new team organization from the very beginning, doing much better planning, and improving the execution time frame by making a more professional assessment of the construction partner.
How do you measure sustainability performance at the hotel?
We are metering energy and water use, we deal with air quality and material flow from the design phase (e.g choosing non emitting materials, building green walls, green procurement policy, etc.), and we apply both LEED and C2C metrics for this working on progress project.
We think that quality hotels should embrace regenerative sustainability, so we’re planning to promote some carbon management strategies as well (e.g. offsetting projects). Material is key, and hotels need clear guidelines not to get lost in the process, and not to frustrate our well-educated clients either.
Your view on the current state of sustainable tourism in Barcelona?
Barcelona needs a regenerative sustainability agenda to become a true smart city. We like the way circular economy addresses that, and we would like the city in general, and the touristic industry in particular, to lead this venue.
Thank you, Monica.
More about sustainability at Hostal Grau here.
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