Touring (Leed) Gold

Back in March, Hilton announced that the year-old Conrad New York had achieved LEED Gold certification for new construction. The 463-suite property, in lower Manhattan's Battery Park City, is a hop, skip and a jump (all right, a bus, a subway ride and a walk) from M&C's offices, so we decided to scope out the hotel.

We toured with Paul Holden, the director of sales and marketing, starting out in the elegant lobby atrium, which is marked by the shimmering 14-story Sol LeWitt mural entitled "Loopy Doopy." Holden has only been with the hotel for about four months, but has certainly drunk the green Kool-Aid, talking passionately throughout the morning about the Conrad's practices.

"The part that excites me the most about being a green hotel is that it reflects my values as well," Holden told M&C. "It could have been easy for our ownership group [Goldman Sachs] to take this hotel and tear it to the ground and rebuild it. But to reuse what was here and to repurpose what was here was important to the environment and to the life cycle of this earth."

During the process that turned the property from an Embassy Suites into the upscale Conrad, the environmental impact was taken into consideration in the design, construction, operations and management of the building. Today, much of the green good practiced at the hotel takes place behind the scenes. Low-flow plumbing fixtures help conserve water, low-energy LED lights account for more than 60 percent of the lighting in the hotel and Energy Star kitchen equipment contribute to the property's efforts. The garbage is separated into wet and dry and is then recycled and composted by the hotel's hauler.

"The suites are intuitive to the guests' needs," said Holden. "All the lights are managed by touch sensors throughout the room, and when a guest leaves, the room is 'smart,' and knows that the guest has left, turning the lights off within 30 minutes." When the guest returns, the lights come back on the way the guest had left them. These efforts and more also have contributed to the property having been certified ISO 9000-compliant in quality management and ISO 14001 in environmental management.

Our tour included a climb through the outdoor Loopy Doopy bar up to the roof, where reflective materials (including lovely blue glass that looks like water) and meadow plants surround a nascent kitchen garden, lovingly tended by new executive chef Antonio Cardoso. This year's crop of herbs and cherry tomatoes have found their way into drinks and menu dishes such as the bruschetta scrambled eggs served at the Conrad's restaurant, Atrio. As he continues to make his mark at the property, Cardoso plans to expand the garden and get his kitchen staff to pitch in with the farming duties.

We took some video while walking through the Conrad; take the tour with us here. Read more about Hilton's efforts here.

Do you evaluate hotels' green efforts when you source properties for your meetings? Tell us about it in the comments below or email me at [email protected].