What Comes After LEED?
By Juan Pablo Laginia Director of Operations, InterContinental San Francisco | April 28, 2013
Earning LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in February 2011 was a huge milestone for the InterContinental San Francisco. We spent more than three years working towards this goal by making changes to how we operated our 550-room property while maintaining a luxury experience for our staff and guests. Throughout the process, we learned a lot about how to make our environment sustainable and energy efficient - from purchasing green power to connecting directly with local farmers to source product for our Michelin star Luce restaurant.
Since achieving the goal of LEED certification, we have maintained our commitment to environmental innovation, looking to offer the best experience to our guests, and do our part to make sure we are protecting the environment to our fullest capabilities. Our search for new technologies and programs is an ongoing effort. The desire to discover new technologies and implement new programs is not something that stops when one achieves LEED certification - it continues to push us forward to be the best we can possibly be.
The InterContinental San Francisco continues its sustainability journey by utilizing Green Engage. Green Engage is IHG's (InterContinental Hotel Group's) comprehensive online sustainability system. It tells IHG hotels what they can do to be a 'green' hotel and gives them the means to conserve resources and save money - by measuring, managing and reporting on their hotel energy, water and waste consumption, as well as benchmarking and the ability to create action plans to track progress. IHG believes this offers a huge advantage to owners for whom energy is the second largest cost in their hotels. It also puts all IHG properties in a strong position to respond to rising energy prices and any future carbon taxes IHG and our hotels may face.
Green Engage proves the value of IHG's commitment to innovation and collaboration. We look for better ways to manage our carbon footprint than merely offsetting emissions, and we engage with our partners to create a 'green' culture where owners actively explore solutions that enhance their business. The InterContinental San Francisco property is able to utilize Green Engage throughout its ongoing operations to as it pursues its sustainability ambition.
The InterContinental San Francisco's Green Team, its sustainability working group, continues to make green initiatives a top priority. Each year they spearhead an annual Earth Day celebration for the entire hotel team meant to celebrate green achievements and educate employees. In 2012, we sent the staff copies of "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth," giving them ideas on how to further green their workplace. The day of the event, we made some flashcards that served as guides to communicate the different successes of the hotel, and the challenges or projects we were working on for the future.
Some of our partners included Whole Foods, ZipCar, PG&E, Aquarium of the Bay, Department of Water, ECOLAB, Kaiser Permanente, Lemnis Lighting, among others. More than 200 employees participated in the event. In addition to Earth Day, the InterContinental San Francisco celebrates Earth Hour between March and April (www.earthhourus.org). During this international event, the staff joins the world in reducing lighting levels throughout the hotel and shutting off exterior lighting during a one-hour period.