Bay Area travel destinations setting a green standard

Today — Jan. 1, 2012 — is one of those days during which many of us revisit resolutions or take a stab at creating new ones.

How about supporting green travel?

Although this concept is nothing new, supporting local travel businesses that have gone the extra mile to get Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (commonly known as LEED) certification — a rating system standardized by the U.S. Green Building Council for implementing high-performance green design — is an attainable goal for just about anyone this year.

LEED is a rating system that distributes points in five major categories: sustainable sites, water-efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. It also considers extra points for innovation in design and regional priority. Depending on your score, you can also receive higher accolades, such as Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED certification.

In the Bay Area, LEED certification applies to a handful of hotels, ski resorts and wineries — all of which deserve recognition for embracing the most rigorous, eco-conscious standards in the U.S.

San Francisco

Located near the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Moscone Center, the W San Francisco — which transformed all of its public spaces this past fall — is LEED Silver-certified. The 404-room hotel also has a restaurant, Trace, that offers a menu tailored around sustainable, traceable ingredients.

A few blocks away, the InterContinental San Francisco — one of The City’s newer hotels — is LEED Gold-certified. With a 32-story glass tower, it is the largest building in California and the third-largest in the U.S. to receive this distinction.

For a smaller, boutique property, the Orchard Garden Hotel — located north of Market Street near Union Square — is San Francisco’s first hotel to earn LEED certification.

Hotel Carlton is not only LEED Gold-certified, but it is also the first solar-powered hotel in San Francisco.

Set to open this spring, the Inn at The Presidio, which is seeking LEED Gold certification, will be located in historic Pershing Hall. The inn will feature 22 guest rooms — 17 of which will be one-bedroom suites — and is scheduled to open in April.

Napa Valley

In Yountville, Bardessono Inn and Spa was the first hotel in California to earn LEED Platinum status, the highest and most challenging standard. A few reasons to visit: Check out the gorgeous woods used throughout the hotel that were milled from salvaged trees; the property also used nontoxic, nonallergenic materials throughout its construction; organic linens and cleaning supplies as well as recycling and composting are standard programs here; and products in the restaurant and spa are sourced primarily from local organic or sustainable producers. Room rates start at $379 per night.

In American Canyon, the DoubleTree Napa Valley — formerly the Gaia Hotel — was the first LEED Gold-certified property in the U.S. This hotel offers great value as well; room rates start at $89 per night.

Hall Wines, located in St. Helena, was the first winery in the state to reach Gold LEED certification. Hall offers drop-in tastings starting at $15 per adult as well as a food-and-wine experience on the weekends at 11 a.m. at $75 per adult.

With one of the most-spectacular views of the Napa Valley, CADE Winery — located on Howell Mountain — was also awarded LEED Gold certification. The sleek, modern facility is worth a tasting and tour of the property.

Sonoma County

Located 60 miles north of San Francisco, the h2hotel — just off the historic town plaza in Healdsburg — is the first LEED Gold-certified hotel in Sonoma County. Many of the materials used to build the 36-roon hotel — such as custom furnishings, exterior wood decking, its main stairwell and its meeting room floor — were made from salvaged lumber and far exceeded the LEED standard. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Spoonbar, also offers a menu that uses seasonal ingredients and artisan-crafted products from local purveyors. (Even liquors are sourced from small-batch producers, many of which are local or certified organic.)

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