The Mason Inn’s initiative to make the hotel environmentally friendly began when creating the blueprints for the hotel.

The hotel was built to sustain energy because of an improved thermal building ‘envelope,’ high-efficiency glazing on windows and doors and high-efficiency water-source heat pumps that result in energy cost savings of 15.4 percent.

The Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel has officially been labeled a Virginia Green Hotel by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, adding to its status of being one of the most sustainable buildings on campus.

“Sustainable building and LEED/Green certification is, and will continue to be, an important part of Mason,” said  Marc Fournier, Mason Inn general manager. “It is part of the Mason University culture and recognition for being conscious about our resources helps the community understand our commitment.”

During the construction of the Mason Inn, nearly 90 percent of the on-site construction waste was diverted from landfills to recycling agencies and more than 30 percent of the total building materials were manufactured using recycled materials.

Not only is the building itself sustainable, but the staff also exercise environmentally friendly practices. For example, documents are printed double-sided to conserve paper and housekeepers are trained to accommodate sustainability.

”There are several green housekeeping initiatives, such as using effective and sustainable cleaning materials, having a comprehensive recycling program and training staff about environmentally friendly best practices on an ongoing basis,” said Fournier.

Sustainability is maintained in all aspects of the hotel: all guest rooms feature water-conserving shower heads, low-energy light bulbs and environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Landscaping on the premise is based on native plants that have less of a chance for drought and therefore do not need to be re-planted year after year and parking spots for hybrid vehicles and carpooling are reserved in the parking garage for guests.

“From the moment you enter the parking lot and begin using the facility you can feel and see the difference,”  said Fournier.

Fournier, however, pointed out that not all guests are willing to accommodate to the hotel’s commitment to sustainability.

“The biggest challenge we have now is that some guests are not as passionate about sustainability as others,” said Fournier. “Some people park in the hybrid parking when they don’t drive a hybrid vehicle. Some guests complain about the shower pressure etc.”

The Mason Inn, however, is still dedicated to providing sustainable lodging and being recognized for their effort.

In April, the Mason Inn started the self-audited Virginia Green application process. This process included a visit from the reviewers who then decide if the building meets the standards of Virginia Green. A month later, the Mason Inn was approved.

According to the Virginia DEQ’s website, Virginia Green is an initiative to reduce the environmental impact the state’s tourism industry. Virginia Green covers various areas of tourism aside from lodging such as dining, attractions, wineries and events as well at travelling green.

Similar to the Virginia Green recognition, the Mason Inn is also Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and Crestline Earthpact certified.

“LEED certification is a third-party certification program. It recognizes both design and construction aspects of a development to ensure environmental sustainability,” said Fournier.

The Mason Inn has worked closely with environmental agencies like LEED in order to develop the most sustainable building and practices possible. That hard work has now paid off in the form of this statewide recognition.