Pillow machine, other sustainability initiatives turn California hotel into “eco-flagship”
Management at the Hilton Concord, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, has started hearing a lot more inquiries about the hotel pillows. Guests are asking who supplies the pillows and whether they can order them for their beds back home, says Director of Sales and Marketing Matt Hohenstreet. His response: “We make our own.”
The hotel has recently started using a Pillow-Vac, a machine from Harris Pillow Supply of Beaufort, S.C., that allows the housekeeping staff to regularly sanitize the down stuffing inside the pillows and blow it into a brand new casing. The hotel is able to refresh all the pillows in its 329 guest rooms at least once a year, with absolutely no waste going to the landfill and no chemicals entering the environment. Old pillowcases are recycled. Feathers are cleansed using UV light and ozone, and dirt and dander are collected in a tray and placed in the hotel’s organic waste decomposing system.
Watch the following video to see the Pillow-Vac in action:
The Concord Hilton is not alone in using the Pillow-Vac—other clients include The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Beverly Hills Hotel and Hyatt Regency Dallas—but it is just one item on a long list of sustainability initiatives being implemented at the California hotel. Owned and managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts of Arlington, Va., the Hilton Concord is essentially being used as a test site for green strategies. An multimillion renovation of the property has integrated dozens of new technologies designed to cut waste and energy use. “They’re using this as their eco-flagship,” Hohenstreet says. “What they wanted to do was come at it from a holistic approach.”
Many of these new technologies require a substantial initial investment. The company plans to closely monitor how each investment affects the hotel’s expenses to see how long it takes to recoup costs. It can then decide which initiatives to implement across its 400-hotel portfolio. That’s only part of the story, though, according to Hohenstreet. “The driving force behind it is consumer demand,” he says. “If you’re not eco-friendly or eco-conscious, people will not choose you.”
The renovation is ongoing, but the hotel has completed most of the sustainability initiatives, which were developed by California consulting firm Hotel Sustainability Solutions. In addition to the Pillow-Vac, here are some other highlights:
–Toilets in guest bathrooms that previously used 3.4 gallons of water with each flush were replaced with new models requiring less than half that. The hotel estimates it will save 800,000 to 1 million gallons of water annually. Old toilets were recycled, keeping 9 tons of ceramic out of landfills.
–Every light bulb is being replaced with energy-efficient LED lamps. Chandeliers outside the ballroom that previously used 600 watts of energy now run on 60 watts. Once lights in the parking lot and a few other specialty fixtures are replaced it will be one of the few 100% LED hotels in California.
–A room-management system not only knows when guests aren’t in the room and can turn off energy-using items like the TV, the hotel staff can control the HVAC system remotely. The air conditioning can be set to certain temperatures or programmed to turn on at certain times so it isn’t working overtime (but the room is set at a comfortable 72 degrees when guests check in).
–An ozone-based laundry system will allow the hotel to sterilize linens without detergents or hot water. New washers spin the sheets with such force that they come out dry and don’t need to be placed in a gas-heated dryer.
–Windows are being covered with tinted film to reflect unwanted heat and lower cooling costs.
Each year, the hotel expects to save enough energy to power 13 homes, or 192 barrels of oil. Carbon emissions will be reduced by an amount equal to the work done by 22 acres of pine forest.