InterContinental Lands a Green Building 'First' in LEED Program
<p>A bid by the InterContinental Hotels Group to make its existing properties more environmentally responsible has earned the company a green building first in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.</p>
A bid by the InterContinental Hotels Group to make its existing properties more environmentally responsible has earned the company a green building first in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
While other hotel companies have laid the groundwork for expedited green building certification of newly constructed properties in a process called LEED volume pre-certification, the InterContinental Hotels Group has become the first hospitality chain to participate in the program and target its existing properties, which far outnumber new buildings in any commercial portfolio.
"We think this is exactly the right thing to do," said David Jerome, InterContinental's senior vice president for corporate responsibility.
Marriott, Starwood, Office Depot and Wells Fargo are among the companies that have obtained volume pre-certification for new facilities under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards. To do so, each firm submitted a design prototype to the USGBC for review. After the design was found to meet LEED standards, volume pre-certification was granted. The designation gives any structure built according to the approved design a fast track to final LEED certification.
Rather submit a design prototype, InterContinental presented its Green Engage online sustainability platform for review. The tool enables hotel operators to enter site data into the system and obtain performance benchmarks and recommendations on how to reduce a property's environmental impacts. The system also helps hotel operators monitor and manage those efforts. Hotels that adhere to the Green Engage program would undergo a streamlined LEED review, if their operators seek green building certification.
"We're thrilled because this (pre-certification) is great third-party validation of the work we're doing," said Jerome.
With more than 4,500 properties and over 650,000 guest rooms, InterContinental is largest hotel group in the world based on its number of rooms. Its brands include Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. The company estimates that the average hotel in the U.S. spends more than $500,000 for energy each year. According to the firm, application of Green Engage across the portfolio could reduce energy costs by more than $300 million annually.
"We have a goal of reducing energy use by 6 to 10 percent across our owned and managed estate over the next three years," Jerome said. "And this is how we will get there."
InterContinental launched Green Engage in 2009. So far more than 1,000 hotels in the group are participating and the company expects adoption of the program to grow this year.
Image courtesy of the InterContinental Hotels Group.