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CHICAGO—When Virgin Group opened its first hotel last month—the 250-room Virgin Hotels Chicago—what was not talked about much in the media was the green story behind the renovated historic Old Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash Ave. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, and member of the B Team leaders who recently called for a global commitment to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, established a hotel brand with the goal of LEED Silver for each hotel. Virgin Hotels Chicago’s green story begins with its site selection. Rather than building new, Virgin Hotels chose a historic bank building and kept many of its features. The facade features rich, ornate designs including medieval characters, dragons, griffins, ducks, squirrels and more. About 80 percent of the building’s original lobby remains. The Oak Cigar Bar in the lobby is now used as the check-in desk where DIY kiosks are placed.
CONCORD, CALIF.—Hilton Concord has been honored with two prestigious and coveted designations for its ongoing dedication and commitment to sustainability. Contra Costa County awarded the Hilton Concord hotel with a Certified Green Business designation, the first hotel to receive this honor. In addition, the hotel received the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award by Sustainable Contra Costa. The Hilton Concord hotel is owned by VWI Concord LLC and operated by Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “We are proud to have achieved and exceeded the benchmarks in sustainability required for Green Business Certification and thrilled to be the recipient of the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award,” said Jack Hlavac, General Manager of the Hilton Concord. “It’s extremely rewarding to earn the recognition.”
TORRANCE, CALIF.—Courtyard Los Angeles Torrance/Palos Verdes is taking its green efforts to the next level with the completion of a landscaping renovation project that will not only save the hotel money but will help take the edge off of California’s severe drought. The unique project brings a low-maintenance, low-water outdoor environment to the hotel in Torrance, Calif. and demonstrates the Courtyard’s commitment to the surrounding community. Flower beds, hedges and turf have been replaced by drought-resistant plants. After a self-audit, the hotel also replaced areas of its irrigation system while adjusting timing and putting in new sprinkler heads. “Our hotel is an excellent representation of Marriott’s Spirit to Preserve program,” said David Zimmerman, General Manager.
HONOLULU—Hawaii Energy’s largest incentive for a hotel to date was recently awarded to Hawaii’s largest hotel—the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program for Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui counties, presented a $471,192 incentive check to the Hilton after the completion of phase I of a multi-phase, multi-million dollar energy efficiency upgrade project. Phase I included a major lighting retrofit in 1,839 guestrooms and the installation of energy-saving fan coil motors in all 2,860 guestrooms. The incentive will help Hilton offset its phase I project costs of more than $1.91 million. Hawaii Energy’s incentive covered 24 percent of these costs.
PHILIPSBURG, ST MAARTEN—The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten made its mark as a game-changer in the hospitality industry by completing a landmark solar installation earlier this year that allows the resort to produce six to eight hours of its own power during peak times. The resort has harnessed the power of the Caribbean sun for more than a year and reached an environmental milestone by generating one gigawatt hour of solar power, or one billion watt-hours. The resort also just installed a completely oil-free Smardt Chiller to further conserve energy; the Chiller is used in the air-conditioning and refrigeration systems throughout the resort. One gigawatt hour of power is enough to provide annual power to 92 American households.
DENVER—The piece-of-pie shaped Brown Palace Hotel, a fixture in the heart of Denver since 1892, has been undergoing a green transformation the last couple of years that has caught the eye of many. The 241-room property won the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2013 from the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Assn. and the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2014 from the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. While dabbling in sustainability for a number of years—bee hives have been on the hotel roof as part of the hotel’s Bee Royalty Initiative since 2009—it was in October 2012 when good things really started to happen. That is when Brenna St. Onge was hired as Executive Housekeeper. She brought a passion for sustainability to her job and it was a year ago that she was promoted to Assistant Director of Rooms and Chair of Sustainability.
BANGKOK—Green tourism has become an important trend in recent years, with travelers and hospitality operators alike all doing their best to minimize the impact that tourism can have on the environment. Centara Grand Beach Resort &Villas Krabi, which is set directly on the beach in a small bay that can only be reached by boat or along a pathway through the national park that surrounds the resort is especially aware of its environmental responsibilities. Last year it was awarded EarthCheck Silver Certification for its environmental management programs. As part of the resort’s ongoing commitment towards environmental responsibilities, Centara Grand Krabi has launched its own water bottling plant using a reverse osmosis system. Also known as hyper filtration, this process allows the removal of particles as small as ions from a solution.
LOS ANGELES—Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, recently announced a $30 million rennovation—which includes all new guestroom interiors as well as upgrades in the hotel’s meeting areas and its famous pools with a completion date set for early 2015. Known for reflecting a stunning blend of Hawaii’s culture and natural beauty, the upgrades are designed to further enhance the guest experience with a fresh, contemporary island look. Room design updates are being headed by interior architect Robert Barry of the Los Angeles based Barry Design Associates (BDA) who won the account via a design competition. The firm was behind the luxuriously iconic look of the resort’s Spa Grande and has worked on hotels and spas including: the One & Only, Bahamas, the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico, and the Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii.
STAMFORD, CONN.—Officials of the Sheraton Stamford Hotel recently announced the completion of the hotel’s next step to achieving its sustainable goals to improve environmental efficiencies that help the hotel as well as its community. The Sheraton Stamford Hotel just completed a $200,000 project, in which they upgraded their lighting to LED throughout the hotel. According to a study from the Connecticut Energy Efficient Fund, over the life of the fixtures, the hotel’s increase in LED usage will have saved an estimated 7,412,770.00 kWh. This is equivalent to 3,755,988 pounds of coal not burned, 308,755 gallons of oil not burned, or 882 homes supplied with electricity for one year. “Savings add up fairly quickly,” said Mike Bennett, General Manager, Sheraton Stamford Hotel. “When we use less energy, there’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings.”
OAHU, HAWAII—Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu, Hawaii, has completed the installation of an innovative green roof that covers a total of approximately 60,000 square feet as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability. “We are dedicated to preserving Hawaii’s delicate and natural resources as stewards of the land,” said Scott McCormack, Vice President of Real Estate for Turtle Bay Resort. “We have received positive feedback from our resort guests who appreciate the project’s eco-friendly benefits and are enjoying enhanced guestroom views of the ocean and landscape art atop the newly designed roofs.” The lower flat roofs of Turtle Bay Hotel were completely transformed and “roof-scaped” with intricate, contemporary patterns using river rocks and native Hawaiian plants. The combination of this conservation project’s size and detailed design makes the green roof unique to Hawaii and beyond.
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