How A Miami Beach Hotel Is Pushing The Edge of Sustainability

'The core of our brand is being a platform for change while also capturing the beauty of nature so that our guests feel the duty to safeguard it.'

Miami Beach is known around the world for charming hotels that can transport visitors back in time to the Miami of generations ago.

But newer hotels are facing the realities of a very different Miami, where climate change and sea level rise threaten the city's existence.

"1 Hotel is the first mission-based hotel company, and that mission is about sustainability," said Hannah Bronfman, Director of Sustainability for SH Hotels & Resorts.

When 1 Hotel opened in 2015, it moved into a building that already existed. 

"One of the things we did through demolition is we made sure that at least 75% of the construction waste was recycled and didn't go into the landfill," Bronfman said.

The lobby is filled with natural elements like plants and wood. The ceilings are made from reclaimed water towers from Alaska and the walls feature beetle kill that was salvaged instead of being thrown out. There is also a wall made of moss.

"(It) actually filters the air, and so we have a lot of plants indoors to promote health and wellness, and also, when people see plants, they just feel good," Bronfman said.

This is all part of biophilic design, which means natural materials, natural light and vegetation to make people feel more connected to the earth.

"So really the core of our brand is being a platform for change while also capturing the beauty of nature so that our guests feel the duty to safeguard it," Bronfman said.

In their rooms, guests can tap directly into the hotel's filtered water system to avoid single-use bottles. 1 Hotel uses energy efficient lighting and real-time monitoring to track and reduce consumption. Low-flow plumbing is found throughout the property and water from the cooling tower is reused to water plants rather than having it go down the drain. Most importantly, 1 Hotel is LEED Certified, which means it's a "green" building that uses fewer resources and reduces waste and environmental impact.

Guests also have access to a fleet of Tesla cars to get around Miami Beach. The all-electric vehicles combine luxury with innovation while having a positive climate impact.

The philosophy is to educate guests and make them think about their impact on the environment. That philosophy begins with the employees.

"We actually pay our team members one day to give back, and they are allowed to join volunteer activities that have to do with climate change and the environment," Bronfman said. "Because if our team members really feel it and breathe it, then it comes out with the guest experience."

"It's only one straw, said eight billion people every day," Bronfman said. "There's just small little actions you can do every day and they all count toward something bigger."

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