M1T Partners recently finalized a preliminary round of funding for Adoba Eco Hotel, the first independent hotel chain to design, build and convert fully LEED-certified hotels. M1T’s $75 million investment is the first round of financing of a five-year, $1 billion plan to expand Adoba on a national basis.

The expansion is being conducted through the Delaware-based investment advisory firm’s fund, which seeks to achieve capital appreciation while minimizing risk of loss by investing in underfunded development projects, opportunistic projects and unique situations. The partnership between M1T and Adoba is “one of a shared vision to create jobs and transform the hospitality industry with a business model that benefits developers, hotel owners and investors,” M1T Executive Director Anthony Gude said in a statement. “Adoba’s growth plan is clear and our capital investments over the next five years, along with the Jobs Creation Act, have paved the way for their continued momentum and job creation.”

Adoba President and CEO Jim Henderson says M1T’s investment not only “represents the groundfloor of an expansion to make Adoba’s brand a prominent fixture in major travel markets,” but that it provides opportunities to build from the ground up, renovate existing buildings and create green jobs.

NREI talked with Henderson about how going LEED will impact Adoba and ultimately, in his words, “transform the hospitality industry.” An edited transcript of that interview follows.

NREI: Adoba is the first independent hotel chain to design, build and convert fully LEED-certified hotels. Why aren’t there more LEED-certified hotel chains, and what convinced Adoba and M1T to take this path?

Unfortunately, in the hospitality industry there has been a widespread perception that the adoption of LEED-designed hotels, sustainable procedures and green building technologies still add immense extra cost that is far in excess of the return on their benefits. That is no longer the case.

I believe many industry leaders agree to the importance of sustainability; however, many of the large, branded chains have a clear gap between their leader’s aspirations and true actions due to their enormous infrastructure and the far-reaching amount of individual ownership and ownership groups.

NREI: How will being LEED-certified affect Adoba’s bottom line?

LEED certification boosts economic benefits from savings on energy costs. Green buildings generate higher resale value, offer greater marketing and public relations and reduce maintenance cost. Perhaps one of the most important aspects is their recruiting appeal and retaining of key employees.

NREI: For the average hotel guest, how will staying at one of the future Adoba Eco Hotels differ from staying at a pre-LEED-certified Adoba hotel?

Eco-friendly lodging no longer means roughing it. Green can be luxurious. When you choose to stay at one of our hotels, you are not giving up any of the luxuries we’ve become accustomed to. In fact, Adoba Eco Hotels are the opposite, with our exclusive eco-plush bedding package and our inventive organic menus paired with regional flavors and fashionable designs that strike an elegant balance between earth-friendly and big-city chic. Our new designs are completely sustainable; a true showcase of sustainable innovation met by the highest standards in hospitality.

NREI: What do you think the future holds for eco-friendly hotels? Can the hotel industry afford not to go green?

We believe “Think global, act local.” Sustainability is a powerful and defining idea. It will become a key performance indicator for hotels of the future. With the evolution of technology around eco-friendly practices and sustainable designs, management and reporting will continue to forge a path of greater integration into mainstream hotel operations. It will become a critical operational measurement objective of the hotel just like revenue, quality and service.

Hotels can’t afford not to go green. Increasingly businesses, especially in an industry as large as tourism, are expected to find ways to be part of the solution to the world’s environmental challenges. Innovative companies such as the Adoba Eco Hotel Brand will find ways to turn that responsibility into opportunity and identify actions that have the greatest impact on achieving both the environment and ownership’s objectives.