Global Traveler|April 2020
IN THE BACKGROUND, the dusky blue-black ice of the Svartisen Glacier glimmers in a thick wedge of still-frozen slopes above the Arctic Circle. Below, vertical shapes springing from a Norwegian forest provide a living, evergreen contrast to the deep waters stroking the shores of the Holandsfjorden fjord. Rising from the depths, its feet thrust securely into the fjord’s bed, are the wooden legs and underpinnings of Svart. This epic structure, circular and serene in design, is the world’s first Powerhouse hotel constructed in a northern climate, set to open in 2021.
The Norwegian Powerhouse designation applies to what it calls “future-proof buildings,” defined as energy-positive buildings that generate more energy throughout their lifespan than they consume. Throughout Norway, structures meeting certification standards for the country’s various green labeling programs include numerous hotels — among them the newly opened, 18-story, mixed-use Mjøstårnet rising above Lake Mjøsa in Brumunddal, north of Oslo. Defined as the world’s tallest timber building (and treated to be fireproof), Mjøstårnet features 72 guestrooms, a restaurant, public baths and meeting spaces.
There’s a brilliant emerald ripple advancing across the globe, and the hospitality industry is moving with it. The concept of a luxury experience also being sustainable and planet-friendly proves both sexy and seductive, and this momentum has data to support it: By 2016 more than 2,070 hotels worldwide were taking part in the U.S. Green Building Council’s esteemed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification program, with those numbers steadily increasing.
“LEED is the roadmap for designing spaces that are better for people and the planet, and certification is a signal that a property meets the highest sustainability standards,” explained Rhiannon Jacobsen, vice president of strategic relationships, USGBC. “Those standards not only include energy, water and waste but also what we call human experience. People are ultimately at the heart of green building, and we hope more brands and properties will pursue certification as a way to demonstrate their commitment to being more sustainable, [while] also creating an experience that guests know prioritizes their personal well-being.”
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