11/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago--The City With the Most Green Seal Certified Hotels in the U.S.

It seems that every time I turn around, I hear that Chicago is at the forefront of green initiatives in regard to the city's hotels. I find it remarkable that this windy city is making great strides to protect our environment so quickly, and with recent Green Seal Certification for five of their properties, I'd have to say they are setting the challenge for other cities across the U.S. to step it up.

Five Chicago hotels have been awarded Green Seal Certification, making Chicago the city with the most Green Seal Certified hotels in the nation.

These hotels are making a tremendous contribution toward the city's recently launched Chicago Climate Action Plan, as are another 20 Chicago hotels that have been audited by Green Seal and are currently pursuing the certification.

Twenty-five Chicago hotels are currently striving for an environmental designation. The Green Hotels Initiative challenges hotels to obtain Green Seal certification, an environmental lodging standard with requirements in waste minimization, energy efficiency, water conservation, waste water management and green procurement.

The program also offers resources, best practices and recognition to the hotels going green. "Whether you are working to install energy efficient equipment in your kitchens and laundry facilities, installing water-saving plumbing fixtures, or planning for a green roof, like the one we have on top of City Hall, your efforts not only serve as a model for others, but you are also helping Chicago achieve its goal of having the most Green Seal certified hotels in the nation," said Mayor Daley during a breakfast at the Hotel Monaco, one of the hotels taking part in the initiative.

During the event, the city also announced that the Hotel Monaco Chicago, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Allegro Chicago, InterContinental Chicago, and the Talbott Hotel received their Green Seal certification, making Chicago the city with the most Green Seal Certified hotels in the nation.

Research data from the Chicago Climate Action Plan shows that 71 percent of green house gas emissions in Chicago result from buildings. With its 24 hour operations, the hotel industry can be carbon intensive.

As a result, hotels can play an important role in helping reduce emissions and providing tourists and visitors with world-class accommodations that are also environmentally-friendly. The twenty additional hotels that have been audited now have the baseline requirements to become Green Seal certified.

In order to receive certification, the hotels need to implement a host of environmental practices including:
• Install energy efficient equipment in the office, kitchen, and laundry facilities
• Install water conserving devices such as 2.2 gallons per minute faucets, 2.5 gallons per minute showerheads, and 1.6 gallons per flush toilets
• Implement a successful recycling program that is monitored on a monthly basis for waste reduction targets
• Use non-phosphate, nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning products and detergents
• Offer guest a towel/linen reuse option; • Use 30 percent post consumer recycled paper
• Establish a purchasing policy that incorporates environmental goals and preferences
• Minimize use of chlorine.

Green Seal certified hotels may find that they can have a less harmful impact on the environment while saving money. For example, a 300-room hotel switching to a bath tissue with 100 percent post-consumer content would save approximately 4 tons of virgin paper, 48 trees, 16,400 kwh of electricity, 28,000 gallons of water and 240 pounds of air pollutants annually.

After the hotels receive Green Seal certification, the city will encourage hotels to pursue other environmental certifications such as the EPA's Energy Star program and the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership for Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) certification.

Chicago Green Seal Audited Hotels include:
1. Drake Hotel
2. Essex Inn
3. Fairmont
4. Four Points Hotel
5. Four Seasons
6. Hard Rock Hotel
7. Hilton Chicago
8. Hotel Allegro
9. Hotel Burnham
10. Hotel Monaco
11. Hyatt Regency
12. InterContinental
13. Marriott Courtyard
14. Park Hyatt
15. Peninsula Hotel
16. Renaissance
17. Residence Inn
18. Ritz Carlton
19. Sheraton Hotel & Tower
20. Silversmith
21. Sofitel
22. Swissotel
23. The Talbott
24. Westin Michigan Avenue
25. Westin River North

Founded in 1989, Green Seal is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides science-based environmental certification standards that are credible, transparent, and essential in an increasingly educated and competitive marketplace. Their industry knowledge and standards help manufacturers, purchasers, and end users alike make responsible choices that positively impact business behavior and improve quality of life.

Adventure Girl, Stefanie Michaels is an eco-travel and lifestyle expert and an advocate for the environment. Her site offers tips for travelers on green locales around the globe, as well as granting monthly Adventure Girl Green Awards to hotels and resorts making good on their green initiatives.

You can reach Stefanie at