USGBC Announces Winner of Sustainable Design Competition

Oct. 26, 2009

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in conjunction with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and NEWH, recently announced the winner of the first-ever Sustainable Suite Design Competition—a competition for interior designers to showcase the best hospitality design strategies that boast environmental responsibility while enhancing guest experience. Because the hospitality industry is a large consumer of energy and water use, this competition aims to motivate sustainable practices industry-wide among newly built and existing hotels.

Submissions from 65 professional designers and aspiring young professionals were received, each one redefining how a high-performance, energy-and-resource-efficient hotel suite should look and function.

The winning design came from the team of WATG, a destination design firm, who led the creative design and specification process, in conjunction with IDEO, an innovation and design firm who brought expertise on human-centered sustainability. Their suite, Haptik, a Greek term meaning to experience interactions based on sense of touch, created a juxtaposition between sustainability and luxury by redefining the guest experience without sacrificing either ideal. The nuanced subtleties of the design were choreographed around individual moments that engage the senses, allowing the guest to discover how environmental responsibility can be achieved personally and collectively.

Among the innovative winning strategies were the many energy-reducing features such as an “all-off ” switch to ensure lights are automatically turned-off based on passive infrared sensors (PIS) and room conditioning equipped by a four-pipe horizontal fan-coil system.

Additionally, water use was also key in reducing environmental impact as the Haptik suite includes a Trombe wall in the shower that captures solar heat to warm the shower water and a graywater irrigation system that filters and recycles shower water to outdoor gardens and landscaping.

As the winners, the WATG and IDEO team will build and showcase their design at the 2010 Hospitality Design Expo and Conference in Las Vegas.

Design submissions were judged on three overarching categories: Design Elements (water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality); Education (guest room attributes and guest practices); and Overall Design (integrated design approach, originality and innovation, general aesthetic and financial feasibility). To ensure impartiality of the winning design, participants could not solicit monetary donations, but rather had to submit a list of in-kind product contributions from sponsors. Industry professionals and design practitioners chosen by USGBC, ASID and NEWH comprised the panel of judges.

Judges also reviewed the Student and Young Professional submissions, deeming the winner to be the Starter Kits, a team from Parsons New School for Design that educates young professionals in metropolitan areas about more efficient ways to live sustainably. Their design, Front Street Hotel in Brooklyn, NY, retrofits an existing building as the hotel location and “pays homage to the area’s industrial, manufacturing past while being contemporaneous with the present-day artsy vibrancy of the neighborhood.” The student design includes an interactive kiosk for guests to learn about the hotel’s sustainable elements such as pre-loaded subway fare cards in each guest room encouraging mass transit use, use of salvaged wood throughout, and constructing a green roof, culminating in a smart and ecologically sensitive hotel.

For more information about the Sustainable Suite Design Competition, visit

U.S. Green Building Council
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

With a community comprising 78 local affiliates, more than 20,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 131,000 LEED Accredited Professionals, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to soar to $60 billion by 2010.  The USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.

American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is a community of people—designers, industry representatives, educators and students—committed to interior design. Through education, knowledge sharing, advocacy, community building and outreach, the Society strives to advance the interior design profession and, in the process, to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives. Its more than 40,000 members engage in a variety of professional programs and activities through a network of 48 Chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Visit to learn more.

Founded in 1984, NEWH is an international nonprofit organization, with 18 Chapters and many regional areas. NEWH brings together professionals from all facets of the hospitality industry providing opportunities for education, professional development and networking. The organization offers unique opportunities including an international membership directory, career network, magazine and sponsorship of leading industry expositions and conferences. To date, NEWH has given in excess of $1,900,000 in scholarships to young people wishing to pursue careers in the hospitality industry.

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