Sleep in a Green Room: What Are New York City’s Most Eco-Friendly Hotels?

April 22 is still Earth Day, even in a pandemic. And with 50 years under its eco-conscious belt, Earth Day 2020 is momentous even if it’s somewhat under the radar for obvious reasons. 

Looking ahead to a time when it’s safe to travel and New York City hotels once again throw open their doors, here’s a look at the city’s greenest hotels. We’ve updated this post for 2020 to include hotels with at least one of these criteria — LEED Certification, membership in the New York Carbon Challenge, Ecotel Certification and active demonstration of efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

The super-greens are hotels that have earned LEED certification, third party proof of adherence to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards set by the U.S Green Building Council.

A green room at the LEED Gold certified Crosgy Street Hotel (Crosby Street Hotel photo)

As with most worthy things, getting certified isn’t easy. A building must meet a battery of requirements in six categories including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. Those that check all the boxes are categorized as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

Don’t look for LEED certification at budget properties. Certification is an amenity requiring time and investment, and hotels can charge for it. But besides a safe, healthy atmosphere, guests will know they’re staying in a building that typically has cut back energy usage by 30 to 50 percent, trimmed carbon emissions by 35 percent and eliminated 70 percent of solid waste.

Our latest informal tally shows nine New York City properties that check all the LEED boxes.

While Platinum status remains elusive, five hotels have grabbed the Gold — Conrad New York, Crosby Street Hotel Element New York Times Square, Intercontinental New York Times Square and the NoMad Hotel.

Three hotels own Silver status — Andaz 5th Avenue, Andaz Wall Street and Fairfield Inn & Suites Midtown Manhattan/Penn Station

The New York Edition hotel is Certified.

Nineteen New York City hotels are members of the NYC Carbon Challenge, a municipal effort to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings throughout the city. Created in 2015, membership requires that participants cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over ten years. Members range from boutique hotels like the Hudson to behemoths like Hotel Pennsylvania as well as luxury properties like the Peninsula New York and Loews Recency Hotel. Other members are 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge,1 Hotel Central Park, Crowne Plaza Times Square, Grand Hyatt New York, Hampton Inn NY – LaGuardia Airport, LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, Lotte New York Palace, The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, InterContinental New York Barclay, InterContinental New York Times Square, Roger Smith Hotel, Le Meridien New York Central Park Hotel, Waldorf Astoria New York,  The Westin New York at Times Square and Wyndham Midtown 45 at New York City.

Ecotel Certification is awarded to hotels that pledge to enhance the environment by “reducing, reusing and recycling” and conducting business with maximum energy efficiency. Prevalent in Asia and Central America, just one New York City hotel is a member — The Benjamin, a green early adapter.

But plenty of hotels without certification are embracing environmental initiatives. It’s become increasingly easy to find properties that recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and aluminum, sport roof gardens and sedum plantings to regulate building temperatures, offer duo-flush toilets that conserve water and join soap recycling programs that collect used soap to be sanitized and sent to nations in need of it, to name a few popular green initiatives.

Our informal list of hotels participating in environmental programs includes Aloft Harlem, Courtyard New York/Chelsea,The Greenwich, The High Line Hotel, Ink48, The Muse, The New York Hilton/Midtown,  Refinery Hotel, Park Central Hotel, Iberostar 70 Park Avenue, Sheraton New York Times Square, Westin New York Grand Central, Westhouse New York and Whitby Hotel.

If you know of any we missed, let us know.

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