America's Greenest Luxury Hotel

Bardessono hotelLast January 29, the 11-year project which will turn a 4-acre family home and vineyard into America’s ‘greenest’ hotel was finally realized

Bardessono – that’s the name of the US’ most eco-friendly hotel – is a 62-room hotel, a 92-seat restaurant and spa that’s currently in full swing at Yountville.

Early last January, Phil Sheburne,a Seattle developer, discussed the hotel’s environmental features and pains taken to make sure its "footprint" is small and fits into the site where it now stands.

Steve Bardessono was Yountville’s public works director for 30 years. He and his brother Pete first started the project of turning their family vineyard and home into a commercial hotel 11 years ago and went searching for a developer.

According to Sheburne, he was one of 12 developers who were considered, and that part of the reason why he was chose is because he understands the public’s interest in ensuring the project will fit in Yountville.

Sheburne had been a city planner in Seattle for years. When he left his post, he built two high quality and noted projects in the area: The Decatur Island, a 600-acre project in the San Juan Islands, and the Willow Lodge, an 86-room development near Seattle. Sheburne added that he was chosen to develop Bardessono based on his two noted works.

The Bardessono family owns the land and Sheburne’s 100-year lease of the property started in October 2005. The actual construction of hotel took the past 2 years.

Sheburne claimed that when finished, the hotel will be "very environmentally responsible" and will become a model that other developers can follow. He even expects the hotel to receive the platinum rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building System.

Sheburne shared that he had been looking for a way for the hotel to honor California’s woods. He saw a big wooden sculpture in a downtown gallery and asked who did it. It took him weeks to track down sculptor Evan Shively who is from Arborica in West Marin.

"I drove out there and all the logs were stacked up everywhere. Evan took me into the warehouse and showed me the walnut, bay laurel and the cypress and that began our long relationship." shared Sheburne.

Shiveley runs a sawmill in West Marin and furnished 100,000 sq. ft. of salvaged wood Sheburne needed for the project. The list includes:

  • 80,000 square feet of Monterey cypress, used for siding.
  • 11,000 square feet of orchard walnut for flooring.
  • 2,800 square feet of redwood recycled from wine tanks.
  • 88 orchard walnut doors.
  • 62 California bay laurel desks.
  • 8 redwood doors.

There are also dining tables and a bar made from walnut, an 18ft. cypress harvest table and two desks, an elm coffee table and a hostess stand. The two screens for the bar are made from eucalyptus.

Bardessono showcases several environmental and sustainable features that were designed to decrease its impact on the environment and enhance its beauty. These features include:  

  • 940 solar panels that produce 200 KW of power on the buildings’ flat roofs. They hidden from view by parapets.
  • Eighty-two 300-foot deep geothermal wells to heat and cool guests’ rooms and provide hot water.
  • Rammed earth walls and 100-year-old olive trees.
  • Paving stones and sand for the entrance road which allows water to seep into the soil.
  • Automatically controlled exterior Venetian blinds let the sun and heat in early in the day and out later on.
  • Dual-pane glass specifically chosen to let natural light in.
  • Fluorescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes. Everything electric in the rooms are on motion-detectors that shut them off when a guest leaves. When they return and put their key in the door, the lights, television switch back on.
  • Dual-flush toilets, low-flow fixtures and water filtration – designed to replace bottled water.
  • Drought-resistant landscaping and underground emitters for outdoor watering
  • Treatment and re-use of gray and black water for irrigation through Yountville’s water system.
  • Organically-sourced linens and cleaning supplies.


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