Inside the Greenest Hotel in America

By Zygmunt Spray

The Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina is LEED Platinum-certified by the US Green Building Council. It uses 39% less energy, 34% less water and 87% less construction waste than a conventional hotel. It was designed and built with a mantra of reducing waste and energy use without negatively impacting the luxury experience for any of the hotel guests. Here are just some of the ways The Proximity achieved its green status.


100 Solar Panels

These panels cover 4,000 square feet of the roof and provide 60 percent of the water heating requirements for hotel guests and their restaurant, Print Works Bistro.

Print Works Bistro Bar Top

The bar in Print Works Bistro was made from salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storms.

Smart Power-Saving Kitchen Cooker Hoods

The kitchen of Print Works uses variable speed cooker hoods that utilize sensors to decrease the fan speeds when they're not needed to reduce overall power consumption.

Geothermal Cooling for Kitchen Refrigeration

Geothermal energy is used for Print Work's refrigeration equipment to save water.

Abundant Natural Lighting

The large windows in guest rooms have a high solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which helps to reduce heating and cooling requirements. They also allow sunlight to fill the rooms to minimize the need for lighting inside the room during the day.

Rooms with Large Windows. Proximity Hotel, Greensboro - The Wayward Post. Photo by Zygmunt Spray.

Fresh Air Circulation with Energy Recovery

The hotel uses a high rate of fresh air circulation with an energy-exchange to reduce heat loss from outgoing air.

High-Efficiency Plumbing

The water usage compared to other hotels has been reduced by 33 percent by installing high-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures.

Energy Recovery Elevators

The Proximity was the first hotel in North America to install the Regenerative Drive model of the Otis Gen2 elevators. These elevators reduce net energy usage by capturing energy from the system and feeding it back into the building’s internal electrical grid.

Construction Recycling

The Proximity worked to send as little of its construction byproducts to the landfill as possible, recycling 87% of the waste. The method diverted 1,535 tons of debris from local landfills.

Waste fly-ash from coal power stations was incorporated into the concrete of the building's structure. This meant that less sand was needed in the concrete, and that the fly-ash was diverted away from landfill.

Local Vendors and Artists

The hotel used regional vendors when selecting the furniture for the hotel. The artwork was also created by local artist Chip Holton. In addition to supporting the local community, relying on local businesses helped to reduce emissions from transportation and waste from packaging.

Low VOC Paints

Using low-emitting volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives and carpets helped to reduce indoor air contamination.

Energy-Saving Features

The Proximity makes a practice of only replacing towels and linens when guests request them to be refreshed. Many hotels have now adopted similar policies to minimize water and energy usage. 

Each room also has power-saving light-bulbs and a "master switch" to minimize energy usage while guests are away. 

Recycled Flooring in the Gym

Used rubber products were recycled to make the floor in the exercise room. 

Bicycles for Exploring

Bicycles are freely available for guests to ride along the Greensboro's Downtown Greenway and throughout the 75 miles of trails and routes in the area.

Their LEED Platinum award was discretely hung by the elevators in the lobby.

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series about The Proximity Hotel, considered the greenest hotel in America. Read Part 1 to learn about the hotel's road to LEED platinum certification. The Wayward Post thanks the hotel for a one-night stay for researching this piece.

Published: 2/10/2016