Two large American hotel brands continue to pursue sustainability. Marriott International's corporate headquarters has received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The certification is in line with the company’s goal to expand its green building portfolio to 300 properties in five years, an initiative that was announced in the fall of 2009. Currently there are 40 LEED-certified or LEED-registered hotels across Marriott International’s nine brands: Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites, Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, and RitzCarlton.

In upgrading its corporate headquarters, a 30-year-old building, Marriott achieved an Energy Star rating of 77, a rating it has held for the last three years. Recycling rates at the facility were increased by 69 percent in 2009 and all of the headquarters’ waste is diverted from landfill to a waste-to-energy plant.

“We have a companywide initiative to create more sustainable and greener hotel operations, and so we wanted to lead by example at our corporate headquarters,” says Jim Young, senior director, corporate facilities, Marriott International, and a member of Marriott’s Green Council, a cross-functional team responsible for creating and implementing the company’s environmental strategy.

In other sustainable hospitality news, the W San Francisco, a property of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, received LEED Silver certification from the USGBC. The certification comes three years after W San Francisco began a green program.

In updating the existing facility, sustainable retrofits included upgrading the facility’s energy efficient lighting so that now more than 70 percent of guestroom lighting and 90 percent of back-of-house lighting uses energy-efficient sources such as CFLs, LEDs, and motion sensors. The hotels’ HVAC cooling towers were replaced with more energy-efficient models that save 300 kWh/year, and motion sensors were installed to power off HVAC in unoccupied guestrooms. In addition, the hotel is considering installing wind turbines on its roof.

“For our guests, the green experience at W San Francisco is a seamless part of their overall W experience, which is extremely gratifying for us,” says Michael Pace, W San Francisco’s general manager. “W San Francisco is a leader in the area of sustainability and green practices for W Hotels Worldwide. Green has become part of modern living and is expected by our guests, who can feel our team’s true passion for green practices, which are infused in everything we do, everyday.”

As a whole, Starwood currently has 67 hotels that are either LEED certified or registered for or pursuing LEED certification. The company also is developing Element, a new “green from the ground up” brand that mandates all of its properties pursue LEED certification.