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Sustainability

Background

Hilton Chicago, built in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel, was at the largest hotel in the world with over 3,000 guest rooms. Last year over 1.4 million guests came through the doors of Hilton Chicago.

The hotel industry differs greatly from other businesses because it is built around providing service to individuals and large groups who consume a large variety of products and a great amount of energy. The hotel currently has 1,544 guest rooms, 245,000 square feet of meeting space, four ballrooms and 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, making it one of the largest hotels in Illinois. Managing consumption in an 85-year old building requires commitment, creative thinking and a great amount of resources. Because of this commitment, the Hilton Chicago continuously challenges and improves its sustainable practices and social responsibility, with respect to client demands, the integrity of its management and its rich Chicago history.

2013 was a banner year for the Hilton Chicago sustainability program, and we were committed to keeping the ball rolling in 2014. Detailed below you will see all of the programs we have implemented and what we efforts we have taken to expand on these measures highlighting the extremely successful implementation of two community outreach programs.

Community Partnerships

In 2014, we introduced a new partnership between the Hilton Chicago and Windy City Harvest.  This unique partnership speaks both to our social responsibility in our community as well as our continued commitment to supporting locally grown and sustainable agriculture.

Windy City Harvest is a social enterprise that provides a nine-month certificate training program and internship in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture.  All participants are Chicago students.  By participating in this program, students learn essential business skills in addition to farming techniques to set them up for success in their future endeavors.

The Hilton Chicago is extremely proud to have come on as the largest supporter of this initiative by receiving much of their produce for use in our kitchens by Chef Mario and his talented culinary team.  This allows us to have some of the freshest local product available (the farm is 20 minutes from the hotel!).  We use the produce in our banquet operation as well as in our restaurants.  If a guest is looking for locally grown and sustainable, they will find it in our kitchen.

Our partnership is also highlighted on one of our food distributor’s, Midwest Foods, delivery truck!

Also in 2014 we were added as a stop on a sustainable food tour that takes visitors to look businesses to give them a taste of Chicago’s sustainable food scene. Food Tank tours provide access to innovative urban agriculture projects, educate our guests about their place in a sustainable food system, and serve tasty, local food made by experienced chefs and cooks.  Every day our chefs prepare a new and sustainable dish for participants while they learn about the measures we have taken at the Hilton Chicago to be green.

This year our social responsibility team has chosen 4 separate charitable organizations to support and raise money for each quarter. In the first quarter we raised over $1,500 for Gunsaulus Elementary School along with donating 65 books and snacks. In the second quarter we raised over $4,500 for the Lincoln Park Community Shelter. Additionally we donated many items needed by the shelter that were all donated by Hilton Chicago Team members. We also hosted a hospitality career fair day. In the third quarter we donated over $2,000 to the American Cancer Society.

Current Awards

The impact of our sustainable programs is detailed below in Section #4. Here are the current awards:

    • 2015 Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association Good Earthkeeping Award
    • 2014 Hilton Hotels and Resorts Brand Award for Sustainability
    • 2013 Governor’s Sustainability Award
    • 2013 Hilton Hotels and Resorts Brand Award for Sustainability
    • 2013 Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association Good Earthkeeping Award
    • 2011 Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association Good Earthkeeping Award
    • Green Seal Environmental Standard for Lodging Properties – Bronze Certification 2009
    • Illinois Association of Park Districts Green Exhibitor Award -2009
    • Illinois Hospitality and Lodging Association (IHLA) 2008 & 2009 Green Energy Program
    • IHLA 2008 & 2009 Recycling and Waste Minimization Program
    • Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) Outstanding Hospitality Industry Recycling Program 2008

 

Ongoing Sustainable Programs

Description of Activities

Melink Intelli-Hood System  In 2012 the Hilton Chicago installed Melink hood systems in its kitchens. The Melink Intelli-Hood demand control ventilation system (DCV) is an energy management system for commercial kitchen hoods. The system optimizes energy efficiency by reducing the exhaust and make up air fan speed. The process leverages infrared and temperature sensors to determine the minimum amount of exhaust air required to capture and contain effluent from the cook line. The hotel invested $101,811 to retrofit its existing hoods. In its first year, the new system saved the hotel ~$30,000 in energy costs and should continue to save an average $30,000 per year versus a continuously running system.

Onity Sensor System This centrally operated digital temperature control system regulates guest room heating and air conditioning by occupancy, infrared or central controls. This allows the property operation to actively monitor its input and manage its energy consumption. This system was installed in 2012 at no cost to the hotel; the annual maintenance cost is offset by the energy savings.

Natura Water System The Hilton took a large step in 2011 toward minimizing plastic water bottle usage in meetings and banquets by installing the Natura water system. The Natura® system removes or significantly reduces contaminants and chlorine. The water is served in large Natura®’s glass bottles that are easily washed and reused. The water is dispensed chilled — greatly reducing the need for ice — and consumed by guests in corn plastic compostable cups or in glass. The hotel chose this environmentally-friendly alternative to reduce the waste associated with the manufacture, transport and disposal of conventional bottled water, and enhance the guest experience.

Cooling Towers  The cooling tower is part of the hotel’s central air conditioning system. Its purpose is to evaporate water as part of the cooling process. The hotel worked with Evapco in Greenup, Illinois in 2012 to design and fabricate the latest in water and electricity conservation. This design allows the hotel to process its grey water system three times versus the previous two times. Conservatively, this will reduce the use of potable water by 750,000 gallons per year. The units also have reduced the previous fan motor function and have improved the chiller efficiency. This has resulted in 432,000 kWh savings in electricity per year.

Kohler automated faucets and low flow toilets  The hotel installed Kohler Highline toilets as part of a renovation of guest rooms and public bathrooms in 2012. This model uses 1.28 gallons per flush as compared to the previous model that used 3.6 gallons per flush. Automated faucets in the public bathrooms were also upgraded with Kohler Electronic faucets with a 0.5 gpm flow rate, compared to the previous faucet with a flow rate of 1.0 gpm. The upgrade is anticipated to save the hotel an estimated 500,000 gallons of water per year.

Cool Roof Pilot  With its existing roof surfaces in need of replacement, the hotel undertook a pilot installation of Sinplast, a cool roof system. The cool roof system was installed in 2012, performance has been better than expected, compared to traditional roof systems. Plans are to move forward with installation of this roof system on the balance of the hotel roof surfaces in a multiphase five million dollar project over the next five years.

 

Waste volume/toxicity reduction

Composting In 2010 the Hilton Chicago began a food composting program in its kitchen to reduce the amount of organics that it landfills. The hotel collects food scraps from guest plates, buffets and kitchen prep and deposits the material in 35 gallon totes. The totes are brought to the dock and dumped into 1 yard containers for pick up. The hotel currently composts over 10 tons per month and is Republic Services of Chicago’s largest volume compost customer. The success of the program requires the involvement of the food and beverage and facilities team, who regularly share lessons learned with other interested parties. In 2012 the Chicago Hilton hosted the Green Team from the McDonalds Corporate Campus to share its composting process, implementation and technologies.   As a result, McDonalds Oakbrook Campus incorporated a program that now diverts 6 tons of food compost per month. The Palmer House (a Hilton sister property) also followed the Hilton Chicago’s lead and began composting in 2011, and now composts over 3 tons per month. While the hotel does not receive a direct economic benefit to composting due to the high cost of processing, benefits are measured through employee engagement, landfill diversion, marketing to sustainable conscious customers and the sharing of lessons learned. From January through September 2013, the Hilton Chicago has composted 142.47 tons of food.

Recycling  The Hilton currently has a commingled recycling program throughout the hotel. Paper, plastic and aluminum are collected in containers throughout the front and back of the house. These containers are clearly labeled and available to hotel staff. Collected materials are stored in 2 yard containers at the dock. The hotel also furnishes recycling bags for use in guest rooms that are labeled with acceptable and non-acceptable items. These bags are easily separated by housekeeping staff, put in a separate container in the service elevator area and brought down to the dock by housemen. This practice has been shared with other Hiltons, and is now used by the Palmer House, the Drake and the San Diego Hilton.   The current commingle program has diverted over 33.08 tons from January through September 2013.

Glass recycling The Hilton has a very successful glass recycling program. They source separate the glass from the rest of the commingled materials in lined totes (see supplement), store in a designated glass room and have one large glass pick up per month. They tie each bag when the tote is full, store in a sub-basement location and rinse the totes after they have been used. The hotel has found that this process works best and does not attract fruit flies.   The program involves the food and beverage staff working along with facilities. The glass is sent to Strategic Material, the largest glass recycler in the Midwest, to ensure the glass is handled in an appropriate manner. When Strategic Material analyzed the amount of material received compared to the amount of bottles the hotel purchases each year, it was determined that over 80% of all glass used at the hotel is captured yearly. January through September 2013 the Hilton Chicago has recycled 25.94 tons of glass.

Other recycling measures  Other initiatives included the recycling of electronic waste, bulbs and batteries through Republic Service, the recycling of mini bars through Environmental Field Services, and the regular return of ink jet and toners back to the manufacturer for processing. The hotel also recycles used cooking grease through Mahoney for biofuel. Cardboard is also recycled monthly, January through September has recycled 59.04 tons of cardboard.

Donation and re-use  The hotel also held an employee garage sale, chairs and blankets to Calgary Church (Naperville), and luggage racks for local YMCA camp dormitories. Through its laundry vendor Maritex, they have also donated an estimated 4,500 lbs. of linens and towels to the Porter County, Lake County and Lake Shore animal shelters.

 

Management commitment

The corporate and local management team of the Hilton Chicago is committed to manage through a sustainable lens. They engage their team to make a difference through action, innovation and challenges.

Local Food Sourcing  Chef Mario Garcia makes it a priority to source local suppliers and change his menus seasonally. He worked with Vendura to design and implement a rooftop garden that contains 84 containers filled with herbs, fennel, pepper and tomatoes. (See supplement for picture). The garden is located on the 8th floor and is just a short elevator ride for the prep team. The garden concept has been shared with other Hiltons on the Hilton corporate H360 site and locally on gardening blogs and Facebook.

Corporate Hilton Standards  The hotel has corporate standard operating procedures (SOP) for sustainable practices that include every department of the hotel. These standards are tracked, audited and reviewed for compliance. An example of the SOP is the guest room towel and linen reuse program and energy efficient lighting used in guest rooms.

Sustainable Meetings Light Stay is a Hilton feature that allows groups to track their carbon footprint through an online portal. This is ideal for companies trying to host a Green meeting and educate its guests on choices they can make an impact. GetPlanning is an online tool that the Hilton Chicago uses in conjunction with meeting planners to eliminate much of the paperwork involved in planning a convention. Meeting planners and hotel employees are able to access and update documents and meeting information from a centralized location online, eliminating the need for binders and printed material. Mobilevent, offered by PSAV, the Hilton Chicago’s onsite AV partner, offers guests a mobile app as an alternative to printing programs/agendas, reducing reliance on the traditional program guide.

Employee Participation

Green Team The Hilton Chicago has a Green team that encompasses members from a variety of departments throughout the hotel. Their purpose is to create agendas, follow through and communicate with fellow team members about sustainable objectives within the hotel.

Energy Fridays The hotel encourages team members to work using desk lamps and natural sunlight instead of overhead lighting.

Training and ongoing education During new hire orientations, new team members are trained on recycling procedures and sustainable practices and procedures. As an ongoing reminder, television monitors in the employee cafeteria encourage team members to participate in these procedures and practices, and to be a part of a larger global initiative.

 

 

View our journey of becoming a Grand & Green Hotel.

Hilton Hotels Worldwide requires all hotels, whether owned, managed or franchised, to measure sustainability performance by using the LightStay tool. Through LightStay, Hilton Worldwide is able to calculate and analyze the company’s aggregate sustainability performance across more than 200 indicators. It measures multiple utility and operational metrics such as energy, water, carbon, paper product usage, waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation.  Learn More

 

Our Urban Farm

Hilton Chicago is partnering in our community with Windy City Harvest, a local enterprise providing education and training in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture.  Chef Mario Garcia is working with Windy City Harvest to cultivate farm land that will produce a variety of items to be featured in his creations.

StayGreen Elite

Hilton Chicago has achieved StayGreen Elite status by the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association.

The StayGreen Program was launched by IHLA in 2008 to recognize its hotel members that proactively use eco-friendly products and services to reduce their impact on the environment. IHLA StayGreen Hotels can achieve recognition for saving energy, recycling & minimizing waste, and using eco-friendly products.

To become a recognized StayGreen Hotel, IHLA members must complete the StayGreen Program Verification Questionnaire and receive a certain score based on a 100 point scale. Properties that score in the highest percentile are recognized as StayGreen Elite Hotels.

  • Rooftop Garden
  • Rootop Harvest

Windy City Partnership

In 2014, we introduced a new partnership between the Hilton Chicago and Windy City Harvest.  This unique partnership speaks both to our social responsibility in our community as well as our continued commitment to supporting locally grown and sustainable agriculture.

Windy City Harvest is a social enterprise that provides a nine-month certificate training program and internship in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture.  All participants are Chicago students.  By participating in this program, students learn essential business skills in addition to farming techniques to set them up for success in their future endeavors.

The Hilton Chicago is extremely proud to have come on as the largest supporter of this initiative by receiving much of their produce for use in our kitchens by Chef Mario and his talented culinary team.  This allows us to have some of the freshest local product available (the farm is 20 minutes from the hotel!).  We use the produce in our banquet operation as well as in our restaurants.  If a guest is looking for locally grown and sustainable, they will find it in our kitchen.

Our partnership is also highlighted on one of our food distributor’s, Midwest Foods, delivery truck! (See supplement for photo)

In 2015 we are increasing our partnership with Windy City Harvest and they will be managing our onsite rooftop garden as detailed below.