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Conserving Water: How One Hotel Saved Three Million Gallons of Water

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Sep 21, 2017

San Francisco’s Intercontinental Hotel is the largest hotel in California to earn Gold Status under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for existing buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council. One of the most important ways it was able to earn this coveted status was by conserving water throughout the hotel’s operations.

The hotel had several water conservation options available—from replacing toilets in all the guest rooms and installing systems that consume less water to replacing heating and air-conditioning systems that use water more efficiently. However, these steps would be costly, disruptive, and likely impact hotel guests. So, the Intercontinental Hotel decided to look for steps that would be easy to implement, cost effective, and still produce a considerable reduction in water consumption.

In other words, they were in search of the “low-hanging fruit” when it came to conserving water and what they came up with was nothing less than phenomenal. They decided to install aerators throughout the hotel’s hundreds of sinks and faucets. In 2010, aerators - which are surprisingly cost effective - were installed in all 550 guest rooms of the 32-story property, in the main kitchen, as well as staff hand-washing stations.

The aerators reduced water use to 0.5 gallon per minute, similar to the aerators that are part of Betco’s Smart Restroom System. This is considerably less than the 2.2 gallons per minute that the sinks and faucets used previously. Plus, installing the aerators took a minimal amount of time—about five minutes each—was not disruptive to guests or hotel operations, and was surprisingly cost-effective.

The result: along with other measures, the hotel has managed to save three million gallons of water per year on guest room operations.  Fully two-thirds of that amount was due to the aerators alone.

But, what about guest satisfaction?  Was water pressure adequate?  According to Harry Hobbs, the hotel’s director of engineering, “it’s been a good decision. We have had some folks think the pressure was too little, but maybe only one in 100,000 guests will bring this to our attention … a very low percentage.”

For more information on ways to conserve water and reduce water consumption for your hotel property or any commercial building, please contact a Betco representative by emailing or learn more about Betco’s water conserving Smart Restroom System.