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The Hotel Industry’s Big Carbon Lie

Hotels are making claims about net-zero carbon emissions—but most are focusing on only half of the issue.

A rendering of Six Senses Svart, which aims to be an energy-positive, carbon-neutral property.
A rendering of Six Senses Svart, which aims to be an energy-positive, carbon-neutral property.

Source: Svart

Behold the hotel of the future: It’s plastic bottle-free, anti-fossil fuel, and powered entirely by renewable energy. A renovation project, it gives new life to existing structures of concrete and steel, and reuses door frames, light fixtures, and even tile. All of its guest rooms are decorated with locally made furnishings upholstered in sustainably sourced fabrics. It’s LEED Platinum—one of just about a dozen hotels in the US to claim the organization’s highest rank. And it’s the first US hotel to receive Passive House designation, granted to buildings that meet stringent net-zero energy requirements.

When the Hotel Marcel opened in New Haven, Conn., in May 2022, it checked all those boxes as part of a mission to be the US’s first net-zero carbon-emissions hotel. But for all of the ways in which the Marcel makes real efforts to be a green marvel, it missed one huge consideration: embodied carbon.