SF energy-efficient buildings rank third in nation

SAN FRANCISCO 173 Bay Area commercial buildings have earned the annual Energy Star designation. They've been rated by EPA standards against other buildings in the same category.

"The things they need to do are operational, meaning what kind of heating do they have, air condition, lighting do they have. There's maintenance they can do to make sure everything is operating properly," Niloufar Glosson from the EPA said.

The Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco has been getting an Energy Star plaque since 2003.

General manager Anna Marie Presutti says the hotel has made a commitment to energy efficiency.

"It's good for our culture and it's good to what it does to the environment and what it doesn't do to the environment," she said.

And it's a matter of attitude. Everyone who works here is involved. Every light bulb has been replaced. In the rooms, there are low flow toilet and a smart thermostat.

"This is a standalone system. So if there is no one in the room, it will automatically shut off," chief engineer Russell Palacio said.

And guests are asked to recycle.

Their laundry operation is a model of efficiency -- from washing to drying.

"We had them installed last year, and they are 25 percent more efficient than the last machines we had, saving electricity and water," director of operations Will Jones said.

Computer-controlled chillers keep the building at a comfortable temperature.

"Being green and doing it the right way can cost you money. In the long run, it saves you money. But the return on that investment can take a while," Presutti said.

Nearly 3,900 buildings nationwide earned the Energy Star. That's a savings of more than $900 million in utility bills, but there is still a long way to go.

"This is really a call for action. It would be great if many more buildings in San Francisco went through the process and got verified," Glosson said.

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