CONCORD, CALIF.—It got official as it can get earlier this year on June 5. It was on that day that the Hilton Concord in Concord, Calif., was designated the Sustainability Flagship by Interstate Hotels & Resorts in a proclamation released by the Office of the Mayor of the City of Concord. The 329-key hotel was selected by Interstate to be the green prototype of what could be rolled out across the company’s other five wholly-owned and managed hotels.
“Our plan is to implement similar programs and technologies at our other five wholly-owned hotels as part of our annual planned capital expenditures and as additional funding allows,” says Don Meredith, Interstate’s senior vice president, Asset Management.
According to Charles Smith, CEO, Hotel Sustainability Solutions, Inc., lead consultant on the hotel’s sustainability project, the Hilton Concord was selected, among other reasons, as the test hotel because it is not only wholly owned by Interstate but also because it is located in a state where there are abundant incentives.
The list of sustainability initiatives put into place so far is long—everything from an organic waste decomposition machine to LED lighting to low-flow toilets to an ozone laundry system. Together, Smith says, the investments are positioning the hotel as a sustainability leader, offering a fast return (in most cases less than 1.2 years), reducing costs, and increasing the hotel’s value.
“I am trying to compile as much savings as I can,” Smith says, adding that rebates helped pay for the guestroom energy management and ozone laundry systems. The low-flow toilets were 100 percent paid for through a rebate and are expected to save 900,000 gallons annually. Old toilets were recycled, keeping nine tons of waste out of landfills.
Aging Lighting Replaced with LEDs
Every light bulb at the property is being replaced with energy-efficient LED lamps. Chandeliers outside the ballroom that previously used 600 watts of energy now run on 60 watts. New washer-extractors spin the sheets with such force that they come out dry and don’t need to be placed in a gas-heated dryer. A pillow renovation system is keeping old pillows out of landfills. It paid for itself in just a few months.
The aforementioned waste decomposition machine is decomposing 6.5 tons of food waste per month. Because of that machine, the number of waste removal trips has been reduced from two to three each month to one each 19 or 20 days.
Here is a list of other steps Interstate is taking to reduce the Hilton Concord’s environmental footprint:
• Showerheads have been replaced with low-flow 2.5 gpm models.
• Recycling is practiced throughout and bins are located in every elevator lobby, in the main lobby and in every meeting space, public pre-function area and employee space.
• A water system was installed in the banquet and restaurant area, helping the hotel phase out plastic bottles.
• A low temperature dish washing system helps reduce gas, electricity and water consumption.
• Hand dryers have been installed in public restrooms.
• Window film has been applied in some areas to reduce energy consumption.
• Motion sensors have been installed in 32 locations.
• There is a paperless guest check-in system.
• Drip irrigation is used in shrubbery zones.
Reasons for Investments
Meredith says all of these investments are important for multiple reasons.
“Not only is there an immediate cost savings benefit for many of these initiatives, guests and meeting planners are making a decision to stay at hotels based solely on environmental initiatives and a hotel’s commitment to reduce their carbon footprint,” he says.
Interstate is currently considering a microturbine for the hotel that would generate electricity and also heat 89 percent of the water used at the property. Other projects in the pipeline include motor change outs in refrigeration units, an electric vehicle charging station, more window film applications, elevator variable drive motor retrofit, and food preparation equipment replacements.
Meredith says Interstate first introduced its sustainability program to its owned and managed North American hotels in 2009.
“All of our hotels are required to complete a ‘sustainability audit’ once per year so we are able to monitor their progress and target additional areas of opportunity,” he says.
According to Matt Hohenstreet, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Concord, all of the sustainability efforts at the hotel have had a positive effect on the hotel's guest satisfaction scores. Guests recently rated their overall experience a nine out of 10.
Go to the Hilton Concord.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.