Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., was the first hotel in the U.S. to be awarded a platinum LEED environmental rating, and managers say its pioneering design is paying dividends. Developers spent about $800,000 on solar panels, a power-generating elevator and efficiency measures, but the hotel now uses a third less water and energy than equivalent hotels and gets about 15% of its revenues from clients attracted by its eco-friendly status.

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