Hilton Union Square on San Francisco’s O’Farrell Street is the largest hotel on the West Coast with 1.8 million square feet, 46 stories and 1,919 guestrooms. “We require our hotels to set annual targets for energy reduction. Each site has to implement improvement projects and use our corporate responsibility performance
measurement system, which tracks over 200 sustainability metrics,” Verstraete explains. “We’ve seen over $550
million saved through efficiency projects and our company is the first international hospitality group to receive
ISO 50001 certification for energy management.”
Starting with individual rooms, the Whole Foods team
noticed an absence of occupancy sensors for lighting.
This could help the hotel conserve electricity if guests
leave the room with the lights still on. With travelers
needing to charge phones, laptops and other devices,
controlled outlets could also help manage plug loads,
The team also estimated that
thousands of CFLs are being
used for hallway illumination.
“We acknowledge the challenge
of retrofitting a building of this
size, but the payback could be
5 to 7 years with LEDs,” stresses
Tristam Coffin, Sustainable
Conference rooms, which
account for over 140,000 square
feet, could also benefit from
occupancy sensors that communicate with a master schedule.
While Whole Foods admired
the work Hilton has done to
use the latest LEDs, the team
walked through a large ballroom
that was lit but had no events in
progress or scheduled.
“We also saw a lot of plug
loads and A/V equipment that
were left on in the meeting
spaces that could be shut down
for additional savings,” observes
“Overall there are significant
opportunities to harvest lighting, add dimming controls or
get rid of lights that are unnecessary,” Melton says.
Whole Foods got to sneak into a housekeeper meeting where a department leader was emphasizing energy
and sustainability practices using an upbeat tone. Hilton
activates its employees to be more engaged with conservation because they are in an ideal position to drive cost
efficiencies, explains Gaines.
“The excitement was really contagious at the pep
rally as they talked about energy efficiency, water conversation and recycling,” says Coffin. “We’ve found that
behavioral changes can make up 5-10% of efficiency
measures. We can throw all of this technology at our
problems, but without team member engagement, we’re
never going to get there.”
The building uses several 300- and 500-ton chillers in
its plant. Although Hilton was commended for keeping up
with maintenance, Daly suggested using a bypass option
that goes directly to condenser water to achieve savings.
Walking through the kitchen, the team felt excess air
being pulled through. “I can’t help but notice my curly
locks blowing in the wind and there’s not a single vat on
here for cooking,” quips Coffin.
For refrigeration, several curtain strips were missing
and a door gasket was in disrepair. They also found a
refrigerator door with the automatic closers set back,
preventing doors from closing fully and creating a proper
seal. “These could be a pretty easy and cheap fix for them
that will immediately help to stop cold air from escaping
and warm air from getting into the cooler,” says Melton.
Once inside the walk-in units, the team brought up the
possibility of raising the setpoints by a few degrees,
which could save energy without sacrificing food safety.
Hilton also showed off how their automation system is
synced to mobile phones, which allows them to change
the settings on meeting room fans and turn chillers on
or off. Mork finds that if an operator sees something but
doesn’t have easy access to the equipment, they might
defer taking care of the issue. A phone app makes their
job easier. B
Hilton Has Room to Improve with
Plug Loads and LEDs
THE HILTON BALLROOM (above) was fully
lit even though no events were scheduled,
an easily fixable source of energy waste.
Chillers (below) were well-maintained but
could benefit from a bypass to condenser
water to achieve savings.