Eastham Hostel Green Project Awarded Funding

Eastham Hostel Project Awards Kresge Funds
Existing hostel buildings to be replaced with "green" building

Hostelling International USA?s (HI-USA) hostel in Eastham, MA was awarded a $50,000 planning grant from the Kresge Foundation?s Green Building Initiative. The hostel plans to replace its existing structures with a new building costing approximately $2 million. The grant was awarded because HI-USA expects to incorporate green design into both the structures and systems (water and air) that can affect the local environment.

The funds will first be put to use to underwrite an ecological site assessment designed to provide information about the character of the Eastham site, its integrative systems and the history of human interaction with the site. This study will provide a baseline for planning so that all aspects of the project work to minimize negative environmental impact and positively promote environmental health and restoration. The site assessment will include interviews with community members.

Kresge Foundation funds will also be used for energy analysis and modeling, evaluation of alternative technologies, analysis of building materials, and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and registration for the project.

?Cape Cod is an ideal site for building with environmental awareness as its marshes, coastlines and dunes are increasingly vulnerable.?

- Deborah Ruhe, executive director, 
HI-USA regional office

The project?s design team includes A+E Architects, a Brewster firm specializing in environmentally sensitive design and construction. Principals Alison Alessi and Robert Evans have a combined 10 years experience designing in the unique Cape Cod environment. Also part of the team is William Reed, a nationally recognized specialist in green building design and president of Integrative Design Collaborative.

?Cape Cod is an ideal site for building with environmental awareness as its marshes, coastlines and dunes are increasingly vulnerable,? said Deborah Ruhe, executive director of the HI-USA regional office that manages the Eastham hostel. She expects the green design coupled with affordable accommodation, will draw new hostellers to the area and serve school groups or conferences in the Cape?s spring and fall shoulder seasons. Ruhe anticipates the Eastham hostel will be a model within the international network of youth hostels.

The new hostel is planned to be a simple yet sophisticated building that produces energy as well as using it, and will have a model wastewater system that could be an example for other buildings on Cape Cod. Flexible and adaptable space will minimize the overall footprint of the building. An initial design suggests two wings: a lodging wing of guest rooms, and a more public wing of common areas and classroom space. Hosting the same number of guests, the new building will include: 48 beds in 11 guest rooms, shared kitchen and dining facilities, common areas and classroom space along with accommodations for staff.


The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion national foundation that builds stronger nonprofit organizations?catalyzing their growth, helping them connect with their stakeholders, and challenging them with grants that leverage greater support. The foundation concentrates its programming on capital campaigns as a key opportunity for nonprofit growth. In 2005, the foundation awarded 216 grants totaling $131,770,027 to organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Mexico. The foundation?s core mission is to strengthen nonprofit organizations that advance the well-being of humanity.


The Eastham Hostel has operated since 1960, providing affordable accommodations in a unique yet increasingly threatened landscape. Situated on 2.5 acres of land owned by the Eastham Conservation Foundation, the hostel has long been dedicated to sitting lightly on the land. Over the hostel?s 45 years, thousands of travelers, young and old, have come to explore the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore.

Each year the hostel provides a welcome place to sleep, play and learn for hundreds of individuals and dozens of school and youth groups, including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. The facility has served hostellers well over the years but shows its age. It is unheated, limiting its use in the late spring and early fall, and not accessible to individuals with disabilities. ?HI-USA must make change in the current facility to be able to provide the kind of accommodations hostel guests expect and to meet the needs of the many youth groups who rely on the hostel as part of their educational and recreational programs,? said Ruhe. ?Since we must make major changes to the structures, we have the opportunity to do that in an environmentally responsible way,? she continued.


The Eastham Hostel is managed by Hostelling International USA, Eastern New England Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing cultural interchange by facilitating worldwide travel. For more information on HI-USA, ENEC, please call (617) 718-7990.

Read more about the project here.

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