Yes, the boughs of the holiday tree at the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel are undeniably green. But so, it turns out, are the little white lights.
Last week the 84-year-old neo-Federal-style hotel shrugged off the residue of its Roaring 20s technology and became one of New York’s first hotels to use wind energy for 100 percent of its electricity. Wind energy is beloved by environmentalists because it’s super clean, powered by generators that produce zero emissions.
What does this mean for the Barclay? With 685 rooms, the hotel uses enough energy to power 500 U.S. households a year, according to Sterling Planet, the renewable energy provider that supplies the hotel. The switch to wind creates an environmental benefit equal to 869 cars removed from the road or 1,530 tons of waste recycled instead of dumped into a landfill, Sterling Planet says.
The switch is part of the Barclay’s year-and-a-half push toward sustainability begun by general manager Herve Houdre. Besides efforts to use organic and local foods in the restaurant, the hotel has ramped up recycling, composting and efforts to go paperless. Despite that, LEED certification, the holy grail of building sustainability, remains elusive, in part because certification is especially hard to achieve for older buildings. But wind power, it seems, is a big component in the mix.
That said, guests can’t see what’s powering their electricity. More visible is another of the hotel’s sustainability measures. Guests who donate $50 or more to CARE at check-in receive a complimentary upgrade (fine print: based on availability).