Rolling out the "green carpet" for drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles, Element Hotels today announced its goal to install electric car-charging stations at all of its properties by the end of 2009.
A worldwide first for a hospitality brand, the program comes after piloting a charging station at Starwood-owned Element Lexington which proved to be a hit with guests and locals alike. Element Hotels is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.'s (NYSE: HOT) new eco-chic brand.
The ChargePoint(R) Networked Charging Station was developed by California innovator Coulomb Technologies. In partnership with Carbon Day Automotive, it will be available at Element hotels currently open, and will be available for installation at properties that the brand plans to open over the next several years.
"At Element, we aim to provide greener options for our guests, and the charging stations are a perfect next step," said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President, Specialty-Select Brands, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Even guests who don't yet drive electric cars tell us that the charging stations are encouraging them to think about more sustainable alternatives, and that's very gratifying."
Sleek and slim, ChargePoint devices are equipped with a universal plug-in for all kinds of electric vehicles, from cars and buses to electric bikes. Plug-in hybrid cars, expected to roll out over the next few years, are also compatible. To use the stations, guests will simply swipe a key fob, plug in, and charge up. Guests who pull up in electric or hybrid cars will also get VIP green carpet treatment with "Hybrid Preferred" parking spots closest to Element hotels' front doors.
Using Google(TM) Maps, travelers will even be able locate the charging station and determine whether it is in use or unoccupied. Furthering Element's commitment to cleaner, greener travel, non-guests will also have access to the charging stations.
The ChargePoint Charging Station is the most recent eco-friendly innovation from Element, Starwood's working laboratory for green design, practices and operations. With six Element hotels open to-date, Element is the only major hotel brand to mandate that its properties pursue the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
The mainstreaming of electric cars got a boost last month when U.S. utilities pledged to increase their efforts to expand the use of plug-in electric vehicles. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, policymakers are increasingly turning to electric cars as a way to cut the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gas linked to climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015.
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