Our Green Story

The Bancroft Hotel is the greenest hotel in Berkeley! How can we say this and why should staying at an Eco Friendly hotel be important to you, when visiting Berkeley? Most businesses, like hotels, consume a lot of resources. From large amounts of water being heated and used, to lights being on, to regularly planned renovation—hotels are big consumers. By making our historic building a green hotel, we wanted to accomplish a few things. We wanted to lessen our impact on the environment, we wanted to prove that a historic building could be an eco-friendly hotel and we wanted to encourage our guests to bring some green into their lives. This is why we are an open book—literally! When staying with us, just open the guest book to find out where each of the beautiful products in your rooms came from. We hope that you will feel inspired to bring some of these ideas home with you. Hotels can be more than a place to sleep. They should refresh, connect you with the city you are in—and even inform. Bring some green home today!

We have also just completed another energy efficiency bookmarking project through Energy Star, where our past utility bills were imported, gas and electric (water is forthcoming), and we were compared to other hotels.  The results came in, and we are very pleased to announce our score of 94 out of 100!  As of September 25th, his makes us the 4th most efficient hotel in the country, and second most efficient in California!  Visit the Energy Star website to see how buildings compare in your area.  If you’d like to see our score sheet, please click here.

As we approached our renovation, we were determined to not participate in “Green Washing”, by only calling ourselves an Eco-Friendly hotel and paying lip service to incorporating eco-friendly aspects into our operation, which unfortunately is quite prevalent in the hospitality industry. We took our time creating a “green agenda” for our organization that would help us navigate the complex decisions that arose.

We were fortunate to have an inspiring mentor during this undertaking. David Gottfried is the founder of the US and World Green Building Councils and the founder of Regenerative Ventures. He wrote the white paper for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a green building standard that is used all over the world. David has done green consulting for entire countries! We are very appreciative that he has been the visionary for our project.

Bancroft Hotel ‘Top 10’ green additions and amenities

  1. Desks in rooms are made from original armoires. Work performed on site (no carbon footprint) by Refinishing Touch (www.therefinishingtouch.com)
  2. 100% organic cotton sheets from Coyuchi. A local company which only sources fair trade and organic cotton (www.coyuchi.com)
  3. Locally manufactured since 1899, McRoskey Mattress Company builds luxury beds from the finest materials available including organic cotton, Eco-Wool®, Natural Talalay Latex, American- made spring steel (www.mcroskey.com)
  4. Bedding including by-product down comforters, pillows and organic cotton comforter covers and pillow shams by SDH linen (www.sdhonline.com)
  5. Towels are a bamboo and organic cotton blend made at wind turbine powered plant by Nandina fibers (www.nandina.info)
  6. Hardwood flooring in rooms is FSC certified hardwood by Eco Timber (www.ecotimber.com)
  7. Carpeting in rooms is recycled carpet tile which allows you to replace only the tile that is stained or damaged without having to throw out entire carpet. Flor carpet tiles (www.flor.com)
  8. All flooring adhesive used is eco-friendly, very low VOC. Taylor MS Plus Greenguard indoor air quality certified (www.wftaylor.com)
  9. Draperies made of recycled plastic soda bottles and polyester, and are non-formaldehyde. All have insulating liners sewn in. (www.qcollection.com)
  10. Shampoos, soaps and conditioners are organic and made by EO Products, a local company (www.eoproducts.com)
  11. All cleaning products are natural and non phosphate. Hydrogen Peroxide is used instead of bleach or ammonia (www.sierranaturalcleaners.com)
  12. No VOC paint throughout building (www.benjaminmoore.com/natura)

Green or Green washing?

Many hotels claim that they are “green”. Some feel that by getting a certificate, they have done all they need to do as businesses for the environment. We view it a little differently. Making choices about what we purchase, how we furnish our rooms, what systems power the hotel takes a lot of research. Of course we are an Alameda County Green Business, but we view that certification as a starting point. We’ve built on that great program in many ways.

At the Bancroft Hotel, we took years to research and probe each and every decision we made for our green renovation. It helped that we assembled a greatly experienced consulting and design team for this project.

David Gottfried is the founder of the US and World Green Building Council and is a visionary in the field. Although this is a small project for David, who is sought after as a speaker and consultant all over the globe, he was intrigued with our commitment to making this historic property green. David has set our “green agenda” and continues to give us counsel and advice.

Dan Smith is a noted green architect based in Berkeley and has been specializing in green building for over 30 years. Dan’s approach is holistic and thoughtful. He is as concerned with preserving the historic nature of the property as he is with integrating eco-friendly elements and systems.

Kelly LaPlante is the premier green designer in her field. She is the author of a book featuring her work and has designed for large hotels, individuals and celebrities. Her most recent creation is Standard Magazine, an on-line design and thought periodical. Ms. LaPlante’s approach with the Bancroft has been to repurpose and reuse as well as incorporate new, green materials and amenities into her work on our guestrooms.

Our list of green changes and amenities is long and is the product of careful thought and research. The hospitality industry is replete with “Green-Washing”—the efforts of some companies to make claims that their products are eco-friendly and environmentally sound, without it being proven or true. We probed deeper than the claims that were made and looked at the materials, the manufacturing techniques, the point of origin and the durability of the products we chose. Our efforts have made us the greenest hotel in Berkeley.

And yet, being green is not a competition that we want to win. We want all hotels and restaurants, as well as individuals to embrace green building guidelines and make green choices in their lives. We hope we can be a resource for people and businesses and to inspire those who stay with us to consider the beauty, durability and environmentally sound materials we feature in our rooms.

  • Desk chairs are locally made using FSC certified hardwood and recycled fabric.(www.hunterdouglas.com, www.knoll.com)
  • Picture frames are made with FSC certified hardwood.
  • Hemp shower curtains.
  • Compostable Shower curtain liners and shower caps from local company.(www.sustainablelivingroup.com)
  • Entire building has gone through “Smartlights” certification and all lighting is either CFL, LED or dimmable. (ebenergy.org)
  • Dual trash/recycling containers in all guestrooms locally made from FSC wood.
  • Furnishings in business center made from unused parts of armoires.
  • Antiques in room as a form of recycling.
  • We encourage guests to patronize local businesses through referrals and discounts.
  • Hotel kitchen practices strict composting methods.
  • All old carpeting was either donated for reuse or recycled.
  • Energy/water efficient washing machines.
  • Use 100% Post consumer paper for all printers.
  • “Eco-font” used on all guest reports saving on toner usage.
  • All heating for hotel is hydronic, which is the most efficient method for this type of building.
  • Entire hotel including kitchen and catering is Alameda County Certified Green Business. (www.acgov.org/aceh/green)
  • Cooking oil is recycled into bio diesel.
  • Delivery van uses bio diesel.

Current Projects for Hotel

  • Landscaping of grounds by Josiah Cain (www.designecology.com) will use native California plants and be a joint venture with UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to promote their mission.
  • Landscaping irrigation using reclaimed water from laundry room.
  • Combination of Thermal Solar pre-heating of hot water and Clear Edge Power Fuel Cell which uses natural gas to create electricity and has by product of heating water. (www.clearedgepower.com)
  • Waterless Urinals in public restrooms and Dual flush toilets in all guest rooms.

Working with exceptional “Green Team”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *