Nosara, Costa Rica

Case Study: Costa Rica’s First LEED Platinum Hotel Relies on Haiku

The energy load is significantly lower because of the fans and lights. We have enough storage capacity to allow each room to have a fan and light on for four hours during power outages. Carl Kish, Project Manager

The Gist


To attain its lofty goal of being the first LEED platinum certified hotel in tropical Costa Rica, Olas Verdes needed to go the extra mile every step of the way.


Olas Verdes hooked up with Big Ass Fans to have 70 Haiku fans installed throughout the hotel, including two in each suite.


Not only did Olas Verdes achieve LEED Platinum status, but it’s also the only LEED certified surf hotel on Earth. And the reduced energy load from the fans and LEDs means they can run for four hours when the power’s out.

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It takes a huge amount of planning and dedication to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The owners of the Olas Verdes (Green Waves) resort in Costa Rica saw all of it pay off in 2016 when Olas Verdes received its certification as the first LEED Platinum hotel in Costa Rica, and the first LEED Certified surf hotel on the planet. Several crates of energy-efficient Haiku fans, 70 in all, helped them and their team meet the super-stringent green-building requirements.

‘Going the extra mile’ for a place they love

From groundbreaking to the arrival of its first guests, Olas Verdes was a labor of love for the owners — love of Costa Rica and the community of Nosara on the Pacific coast; love for its flora and fauna, and love for the “pura vida” that is the country’s hallmark. In order to preserve the untouched beauty of the
site, located in a community known for eco-tourism, the owners set themselves a lofty goal: LEED Platinum certification. “They were eager to go the extra mile from day one to raise the bar for sustainable tourism,” said Olas Verdes Project Manager Carl Kish. To gain the points needed for a Platinum rating, care was taken at every stage to reduce the building’s impact on the environment and minimize its energy load when complete. During construction, waste
materials were recycled according to LEED guidelines and barriers were put up to prevent erosion and sedimentation. Trucks were prevented from carrying in pollutants, and 90% of the trees were left on the property. For the local builders involved in the work, operating within LEED guidelines was all new
territory, but they were excited to learn about it. Of course water conservation was a top priority, because of a long-term drought in the area. Olas Verdes installed 14,000 liters of underground rainwater storage. Each of its 17 suites uses ultra low-flow water fixtures, and the property’s greywater is treated in a chemical-free wastewater treatment system. The water then helps irrigate the native vegetation. The building itself, as well as all the cabinetry inside, was built of locally harvested wood. Recycled glass was collected and used in the creation of two large mosaics by local artists.

Haiku takes hotel to new energy-efficient heights

To create the most energy efficient space possible, the building was situated to take advantage of prevailing winds and featured lots of overhangs to minimize solar heat gain. Solar panels, solar battery storage and solar hot water meet about 25% of the hotel’s energy demand, said Kish. Every suite features two Haiku fans, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. Kish said the fans made it possible for them to eliminate A/C in the living room entirely, even though the region can get quite hot. Fans are also in the resort’s offices, entertainment venue and restaurant. The Haiku is one of the most energy-efficient fans on the market, which is not surprising — it’s made by Big Ass Fans, a company with its own LEED Gold testing facility.
“People love them,” said Kish. “Whenever they’re turning they keep mosquitoes away.” Each fan also comes with a built-in LED, which meant fewer lights were necessary in each suite, said Kish. And because the Haiku fans and lights are so energy efficient, when the power goes out, as it does often in the region, there’s enough storage capacity in the solar batteries to run a fan and light for four hours. “That’s a huge benefit,” he said. But energy efficiency and stellar green credentials aren’t all the fans are good for at the LEED Platinum hotel. Olas Verdes General Manager Luis Pardo said visitors love their evenly distributed breeze that keeps mosquitoes away and their silence; Pardo loves the fact that they’re so easy to clean. And it doesn’t hurt that “Haiku has some of the best customer service I have ever seen,” said Pardo.

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