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Cornell Real Estate Review

Abstract

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has been the path of many hotel industry professionals, particularly owners and real estate developers, wishing to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability. LEED certification offers a framework for hotel industry stakeholders to pursue structurally and mechanically efficient buildings with eco-friendly components and unlock the accompanying financial benefits (USGBC, 2018). New evidence suggests, however, that LEED certification’s structure-centric, prescriptive scorecard may be misaligned with the day-to-day operational complexity of hotels (Behnke, 2017). In the wake of the United Nations’ call for more ambitious international goals to reduce global carbon emissions in the UN Emissions Gap Report 2017, hotels may find new opportunities for commingled financial, environmental, and societal benefits by leveraging their unique position in the built environment, reframing their sustainability efforts, and aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN, “Sustainable Development Goals,” 2018).

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