The Good-Natured Hotel

Behind the Cedarbrook Lodge's all-encompassing green experience are satellites that control its sprinklers, microbes that love'em some compost, and an ethos of honest environmentalism

PROJECT

Location Seattle
Size 780,000 ft²
Opened 2002
Acquired 2009
Program 110 guest rooms, meeting and event space

The juxtaposition of urban and natural settings is becoming increasingly common, but it is rare to find destinations where these contrarian environments don’t feel contrived or artificial. Cedarbrook Lodge is one exception. Set only a half mile from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the lodge occupies 18 acres of land, 15 of which are naturally restored wetlands that are self-contained habitats for wildlife indigenous to the Northwest, including a nesting of bald eagles. The wetland has managed to remain untouched by the surrounding urban area of Seattle-Tacoma and, fortunately, it will remain so, as it is protected from future development.

TEAM

Owner Cedarbrook Lodge
Composting Service Cedar Grove Composting

Cedarbrook Lodge itself is a leader in environmental stewardship; it not only incorporates sustainability into numerous aspects of its operations but imparts a green and responsible mentality into its employees and the services they provide. It certainly has the right man at the helm: Scott Ostrander, the hotel’s general manager, has long been a champion for sustainability as a way of business and a way of life. “I personally believe in being environmentally responsible and doing everything possible to give back to the environment and the community, both as a company and myself as an individual,” Ostrander says. “When I visited the hotel for the first time and saw where it was and what it was, I gained an understanding of the values that are a foundation for the hotel. It was very much in alignment with my own personal values as it pertains to sustainability.”

Copperleaf Restaurant’s executive chef Mark Bodinet (left) and culinary director Roy Breiman harvest produce and herbs from the on-site chef’s garden at Cedarbrook Lodge. Photos: Cedarbrook Lodge/Jeff Caven

Cedarbrook is part of the Coastal Hotel Group, which operates three additional destinations. While each is unique to its respective location and environment, sustainability and responsibility is a thread of continuity throughout. At Cedarbrook Lodge, all the landscaping is natural, and the plant life on the property is indigenous to the area. Two underground reclamation ponds are used to feed the irrigation system, and all of the eaves and troughs drain into the ponds.

The irrigation and watering system itself is remarkable. Each individual sprinkler head is controlled by a satellite in space; a sensor on each sprinkler measures the dryness of the area and communicates with the satellite, which then activates watering only in the areas that need it.

The on-site restaurant and all food service is sourced 100 percent from local and organic farms and gardens. The food and beverage team also uses 100 percent biodegradable and compostable sugarcane tableware. The hotel recycles 100 gallons of its grease and cooking oil each month to be converted into useable biodiesel fuel and has its own on-site composting program, which it uses to enrich the soil and grow its own vegetables and herbs. “The benefits of our composting are multifold,” Ostrander says. “It reduces overall waste in landfills, allowing us to recycle our waste, and it also creates an incredible richness in the soil.”

GREEN

Certification Not applicable

Materials 100% biodegradable, compostable sugarcane tableware

Water Satellite-controlled sprinklers

Food 100% from local farms and gardens

Waste Grease and cooking oil converted into biodiesel, on-site composting program

Electric Vehicles Charging stations on-site to promote energy-efficient vehicles

Amenities NATURA bath products, biodegradable bottles, low-energy-use 42” HDTVs

Housekeeping Staff uniforms made from 100 percent post-consumer bottles, cleaning and paper products Green Seal Certified

When the amount of composting exceeds the on-site capability, Cedarbrook Lodge employs the help of Cedar Grove Compost, a composting expert and service company in the area. “It’s a closed-loop connection: the hotel recycles their food wastes and creates a nutrient cycle,” explains Jami Burke of Cedar Grove Composting. “Composting increases the organic matter in the soil. It’s like a bag lunch for the existing microbial communities. You’re adding the nutrients to the soil, which then passes it off to the plants. It’s a very natural process.”

Cedarbrook Lodge also has a mushroom inoculation garden, and all of its growing gardens are in guest areas so that the guests can see what the hotel is doing and learn about its composting program. Involving the guests is an important tenet of the hotel. “I love this hotel, but also I love the people here,” Ostrander says. “I get to work with a great staff and interact with great guests—that’s what motivates and inspires me.”

Recently, the hotel installed electric vehicle charging stations that promote the use of energy-efficient automobiles, and this will hardly be the final effort. “It’s an evolution,” Ostrander says. “I’m proud that we continue to evolve. We do everything we can to support the environment, and we can always do more.” Beyond the tangible programs and initiatives, the hotel propagates an environmentally responsible personality, if a hotel can be said to have such a thing. “I’m a big advocate of hiring employees that believe what we believe,” Ostrander says. “In the end, people do business with people who share their same values.”