Sustainable design and building: green and profitable

Is concern for the environment incompatible with running a profitable business? Do “green” processes make new construction too expensive? Dennis Quaintance, CEO of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, didn’t think so when he decided to design a new luxury hotel and restaurant. He decided to maximize use of sustainable design and operation principles for his building project.

The Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro, which opened in 2007, earned LEED Platinum certification, but didn’t cost much more to build than it would have using more conventional techniques. The company’s commitment to sustainable design and building demonstrates that a large new development can be both green and profitable.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the certification program of the U.S. Green Building Council. It provides independent verification that a building meets certain standards for energy savings, water efficiency, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the quality of its indoor environment, stewardship of natural resources, and sensitivity to environmental impact of its construction and operation.

Proximity Hotel’s Dennis Quaintance, on the hotel’s roof with solar panels

Besides using 39% less energy and 33% less water, Quaintance-Weaver recycled construction debris, used recycled content, cut down on transportation costs by maximizing use of locally produced building materials and furnishings, provided natural daylight to nearly all of the occupied space, commissioned art for the guest rooms from local artists and provided adjacent temporary studio space for them, and even restored 700 feet of a stream on the property. Altogether, the design and construction of the hotel used more than 70 different sustainable practices.

The Proximity Hotel’s sustainable design cost less than $7,000 more to build than using conventional design and construction techniques. In its first year of operation, it saved more that $13,000 on water use alone. One hundred solar panels heat the water for bathing and dish-washing in place of a conventional gas or electric water heater. The hotel that cost a little more to build wound up saving much more back in reduced operating costs. Green. Profitable.

The Proximity Hotel, evening view


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