Green hotel is a first for state

Building’s owner inspired by family tragedies to adopt environmentally-friendly measures

S.C. Huang, 83, the owner of San Francsico’s first “green” hotel, was inspired by the tragic events that have shaped her life.

Ten years ago, Huang’s 38-year-old daughter died of a brain tumor. The young woman’s untimely death came just a year after Huang’s husband succumbed to cancer. Decades earlier, in Shanghai, Huang’s father died after a battle with cancer.

“Three of my loved ones” were taken by cancer or cancer-related illnesses, Huang said. “It’s inspired me to build a green hotel.”

Huang dedicated the yet-to-be completed $25 million Orchard Garden Hotel on Wednesday to her family members whose “lives were all too short,” as a crowd gathered for a tree planting at the new hotel site.

The 86-room hotel, sister to the nearby Orchard Hotel, is San Francisco and California’s first green hotel as designated by the U.S. Green Building Council. There are three other hotels — in Maryland, Colorado and Georgia — certified by the council as “green.”

The nine-story boutique hotel on the 400 block of Bush Street is slated for completion next month.

It will be the first hotel in San Francisco to provide guestroom key cards that operate the lights and appliances in the room. Electricity is turned on and off when the occupant enters the room. This system, common in Asia and Europe, is expected to save about 20 percent in energy consumption.

During construction, 75 percent of the waste was recycled or reused, as opposed to going to a landfill. Its environmentally friendly features include: non-smoking rooms, non-toxic paints, glue, carpets and varnishes. Recycled products were used for interior finishes; rooms have low-flow water fixtures and maple wood furniture certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The hotel uses citrus-based cleaning products and recycled paper with soy-based inks. Elegant recycling bins are in each of the guest rooms.

A night at the hotel will go for $149, which is an introductory rate. Rooms won’t cost more because of its green status. Rooms cost the same as the nearby Orchard.

Instead of the typical ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new hotel, Mayor Gavin Newsom helped Huang plant a marina tree that will live on the hotel’s roof garden.

The mayor said next time an application for a green hotel goes through The City’s permit process, it will have priority over others, according to a new program announced last week.

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