By Terry Trucco
In observation of Earth Day (and Month), we pause for a quick pulse check on how New York City hotels are doing on the green front.
This month the city’s largest hotel, the 1,981-room New York Hilton, took a big stride towards energy efficiency. As befits a big hotel, the gesture is grand. On view is the hotel’s new green roof occupying 16,000 square feet atop a fifth floor setback. The garden, consisting of a vast array of sedum harvested at an upstate farm, isn’t open to guests. But it offers a glimpse of nature for hotel guests on the 53rd Street side of the building who happen to gaze down from their windows.
More important, the plants are on board to do what roots and foliage do naturally – absorb airborne pollutants, deflect solar radiation and reduce the thermal load. The predicted result: less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and less energy required to keep the building cool.
In addition, the hotel is installing a Cogeneration System, which should be running at full tilt this summer. The environmentally friendly system powered by natural gas will provide more than 50 percent of the hotel’s electrical power and more than 40 percent of steam for heating and hot water.
At 1,750 kW, Hilton’s Cogeneration system will be the largest at a New York City hotel, the
hotel says. The goal: to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint by more than 30 percent, the equivalent of removing more than 6,000 mid-size cars from the road.
Though much of the progress towards energy efficiency is on view at newer hotels, where it is easier and less costly to implement changes from the ground up, older hotels, like the 49-year-old Hilton, are hardly in the dust.
At the 86-year-old Intercontinental New York Barclay, 100 percent of the energy comes from clean, renewable wind power. Last summer the hotel installed a lavish roof garden, complete with four beehives, to supply greens for the kitchen and cut back on the carbon dioxide released sent into the atmosphere.
And in Chelsea, the Desmond Tutu Center, a 60-room hotel housed in a landmarked 19th-century building uses a geothermal system to heat and cool the rooms.
Among newer properties, the three-year-old Crosby Street Hotel is at the top of the heap with greendom’s highest accolade, Gold LEED Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.