SAN FRANCISCO—The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco has been named a San Francisco Green Business, making it the largest hotel by square footage and second largest building in the city to receive the recognition. Under the direction of Chief Engineer Shane Caldwell, the hotel spent more than two years working alongside the San Francisco Department of Environment to audit its existing practices and implement new programs and procedures to become a more sustainable property focusing on the areas of waste management, pollution prevention, conservation, water management, and energy efficiency. To date, the hotel has replaced more than 8,000 lightbulbs to save on energy use, updated showerheads in nearly 400 guestrooms to reduce water consumption, and has diverted 187 tons of trash from landfills for the 2017 year.
“The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is proud to be recognized by the City of San Francisco for our green efforts,” says General Manager Maarten Drenth. “At nearly 91 years old, we are an example that it does not matter how old a building might be—anyone can operate green if the team is committed. We are looking forward to continuing to challenge ourselves to be more efficient and sustainable across the entire property.”
The InterContinental Mark Hopkins sits atop Nob Hill not far from the city’s shopping and business districts. The hotel has committed itself to integrating many sustainable features and practices into daily operations while continuing to maintain the luxury experience guests have come to enjoy over the years.
“The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is a historic property with a contemporary commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of Environment. “With this certification, we are proud to recognize the hotel’s environmental achievements across the board—from reducing millions of gallons of water use per year to purchasing ‘green’ cleaning products that will improve employee and guest wellness. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins now joins 273 certified green businesses in San Francisco that are demonstrating that economic and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand.”
Largest Hotel to Undergo Certification
In San Francisco, the hotel industry continues to be a sustainability leader. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is the largest local hotel property to undergo certification and joins eight other certified Green Business hotels in San Francisco. “The Hotel Council is committed to helping the City of San Francisco achieve its sustainability goals and supporting our members in their sustainability journeys,” says Jessica Lum of the Hotel Council. “We hope the InterContinental Mark Hopkins’ Green Business certification will inspire more hotels to adopt more sustainable practices.”
San Francisco’s Green Business certification is open to any San Francisco business. To be certified businesses are required to meet a high set of environmental practices in the areas of energy, water, waste, and pollution prevention specific to the industry sector. The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins met and exceeded the San Francisco Green Business program’s 93 standards for the hotel industry.
Some examples include:
Waste Management: The hotel has an 81 percent waste diversion rate and works closely with San Francisco’s Recology and also with Biagini Waste Reduction Systems, a waste removal company that streamlines recycling and waste management practices. Biagini provide audits, trains the staff, and helps implement new practices in waste sorting. The 187 tons of trash diverted from landfills per year is enough to take nearly 95 cars off the road.
Energy Reduction: All appliances, computers, monitors, printers and other electronics are Energy Star or EPEAT rated. The hotel also implemented Stem technology, an energy storage network that combines cloud analytics and intelligent energy storage to reduce commercial electricity costs. Stem’s solution leverages the company’s proprietary combination of big data, predictive analytics, and energy storage to intelligently switch between battery power and grid power to reduce energy costs and not use power from the grid during peak hours.
Water Reduction and Management: Low flow showerheads, toilets and faucet aerators installed throughout the property have reduced water consumption by 1.5 to 2 million gallons per year. This annual savings is enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool two to three times over. The team also installed the Dolphin Water Care treatment system to control scale, corrosion and bacterial growth in its cooling towers without the use of harsh chemicals, ultimately lowering the hotel’s water consumption. Since implementing, they estimate a reduction in water use of 85,000 gallons per year.
Environmental Purchasing: From the rooms and general office space to the kitchen, the hotel uses paper, toilet paper, business cards, envelopes, and more made from post-consumer waste materials. This environmental purchasing also extends to the food and beverage department, where they source 60 percent of their ingredients from certified organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested and/or locally grown producers. These include Jacobs Farm, Sebastopol Microgreens, Cowgirl Creamery, and more. Additionally, vendors across all aspects of the property are selected by keeping proximity and packaging in mind.
Staff Training: All new hires go through a detailed training on the hotel’s commitment to sustainability. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins also established a “Green Team” made up of hotel managers and colleagues to continue to lead the way with new initiatives. Led by Chief Engineer Shane Caldwell, the team was instrumental in achieving certification and continues to meet monthly to discuss the hotel’s energy consumption and new ideas that challenge the hotel to be more sustainable.
Sustainable Transportation: The hotel implemented a commuter benefits program, encouraging employees to use public transit, carpool, or bike to work.
In addition to being a Green Certified hotel by the city of San Francisco, both food and beverage outlets—Top of the Mark and Nob Hill Club—are three-star green certified by the Green Restaurant Assn. This national nonprofit organization provides a way for restaurants to become more environmentally responsible through a set of measurable standards while also giving the property next steps in continuing to become more sustainable.