The tourism and hospitality industry has firmly embraced eco-friendly measures, with a growing number of hotels launching initiatives from recycling to energy efficiency and water conservation to waste treatment. Few have gone as far as URBN Hotels and Resorts Group, which is going green by designing a property on the concept of sustainability. The hotel group, which runs the mainland's first carbon-neutral property in Shanghai, is working together with Vanke, the country's largest residential real estate developer, to build and operate the region's first forward-thinking, sustainably built and green-operated hotel. 'We hope to inspire and educate our guests,' says Victoria Hajjar, the hotel's marketing director. 'We strive to be more than just a green hotel, but a property that also connects guests to the community and environment, inspires change within our guests' lives, and also to enrich the lives of our guests and employees.' The new project, which sees the start of construction on a site in Pudong next month, will comprise a boutique hotel, serviced apartments and commercial and retail space. The most remarkable thing about the project is not that it aims to address every Green aspect, from energy and water usage to water disposal and recycling, but that it will go beyond the concept of sustainability. 'We plan to develop a hotel where by operating it we are actually positively affecting the environment,' says Jules Kwan, URBN's managing director, adding that plans being considered include growing the hotel's own food, integrating a green wetland on its rooftop to boost the biodiversity of the site to levels that exceed the original, and ensuring the water discharged from the hotel is cleaner than the air and water entering the building in the first instance. URBN is also mulling the level of Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification it should aim for. Developed by the United States Green Building Council, LEED is a recognised green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building is designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics focusing on aspects of environmental sustainability. One of the few hotels in Asia with LEED certification is the five-star Heritance Kandalama property in Sri Lanka. Aside from its green architecture, the hotel is built in the configuration of a bird located between two rocks and melded perfectly into the mountainside. The impact of the hotel's green initiatives are far reaching. These include energy conservation - protecting the natural and cultural habitat in which the property is situated, environmental education, energy water and waste management - a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, and an integrated sustainable policy implemented at every operational level. Building a green property of such a scale requires the integration of green design concepts from the start, and depends on sourcing the right suppliers who can deliver on the specific requirements and meet the timeline, Kwan adds.