SAN FRANCISCO—The four-diamond W San Francisco made history this week by earning the first LEED certification of an existing building belonging to a major hotel brand. With its Silver LEED certification, W San Francisco becomes only the seventh hotel in the United States to receive the recognition for an existing building. Stringent criteria for an existing building certification measure “operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the LEED program.
“For our guests, the green experience at W San Francisco is a seamless part of their overall W experience, which is extremely gratifying for us,” said Michael Pace, W San Francisco’s general manager, and a sought-after speaker on green business practices. “W San Francisco is a leader in the area of sustainability and green practices for W Hotels Worldwide. Green has become part of modern living and is expected by our guests, who can feel our team’s true passion for green practices, which are infused in everything we do, everyday.”
Certified by the state of California as a green business, W San Francisco began its green program in 2007 with the passion of employees helping launch it. W San Francisco also won a 2008 “Good Earthkeeping” award, recognizing environmental leadership, from the California Hotel & Lodging Association.
Rooftop Wind Turbines Considered
Among the energy efficiency steps taken at W San Francisco without negatively impacting the sensory experience and atmosphere of the hotel: More than 70 percent of guestroom lighting and 90 percent of back-of-house lighting is energy efficient, using CFLs, LEDs, motion sensors, and other technologies; the hotel’s HVAC cooling towers were replaced with energy-efficient models, saving 300 kWh/year; motion sensors power off HVAC in unoccupied guestrooms; and Energy Star power management features are activated on all PCs. Management continues to track energy usage and savings with a third-party vendor through the hotel’s utility company, PG&E. Lastly, to further improve energy efficiency and encourage the use of renewable energy, management is considering installing wind turbines on the hotel’s roof—a first for a commercial building in the city.
W San Francisco added a green component to W’s signature meeting experience, “Sensory Meetings,” where all food and beverage is organic, biodynamic, and local. The hotel also hosts “zero-waste,” carbon-neutral events through a partnership with “Live Neutral” carbon offsets.
W San Francisco’s LEED certification means another milestone for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., the hotel’s parent company, adding to their portfolio of four new construction (LEED-NC) properties to obtain the coveted designation. Worldwide, Starwood has a total of 67 hotels that are either LEED certified or registered for or pursuing LEED certification.
All Elements Built for LEED
Element, Starwood’s new “green from the ground up” brand, made its own history by becoming the first major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue LEED certification.
LEED is an internationally recognized, third-party certification for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The LEED rating system is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being. LEED’s rating system offers four certification levels for new construction—Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum—that correspond to the number of credits accrued in five green design categories.
The LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System helps building owners and operators measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. LEED for Existing Buildings addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades. It can be applied both to existing buildings seeking LEED certification for the first time and to projects previously certified under LEED for New Construction, Schools, or Core & Shell.
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