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January 9, 2008updated Dec 20, 2023

InterContinental Chicago Goes Green

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

InterContinental Chicago (505 N. Michigan Ave.) is going green, converting the historic hotel into a sustainable use facility through major adjustments to the building and practices throughout every division. In order to maintain the luxurious elements of the establishment, no concessions on the standards of service and quality will be diminished by the process of installing eco-friendly upgrades. Hotel guests may expect the same service and elegant accommodations with an increased effort towards environmentally friendly practices.

To start, the hotel has committed to purchasing “Green Sustainable Energy Credits” to supply 50% of its annual energy consumption, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the facility ahead of the impact of the numerous other environmentally-focused initiatives. With plans to create a “Green Roof” during summer 2008 and attain LEED certification, the InterContinental Chicago is making a positive impact on the environment.

GREEN AMENITIES: Hotel guests are unlikely to notice the in-room modifications, though their consciences will be clear with green upgrades permeating the plumbing, electric and laundry systems. Hotel rooms are outfitted with energy efficient light bulbs and automated motion detectors to conserve energy while rooms are unoccupied. Aerators installed in guest room sinks reduce water use by 50% and toilet “tummies” in all historic tower guest rooms reduce water utilized when flushing. In the bathrooms, coreless toilet paper rolls minimize cardboard waste. Public restrooms also make use of solar-powered faucets. Most significantly, plans exist to install solar thermal panels on the rooftop to heat hotel water, one of the greatest sources of hotel energy use.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Within the food and beverage program, efforts are being made to use non-disposable serving ware and cloth napkins, where possible, and are in the process of sourcing napkins made from recycled paper for use in the Lobby bar. The culinary team is reaching out to local purveyors to source organic meat and produce. Organic wine is also available at Eno, the hotel’s chic wine, cheese and chocolate lounge. Food scraps from the hotel are being donated to composting sites and local farms for environmental reuse.

GREEN WEDDINGS & MEETINGS: The InterContinental Chicago turns white weddings to green with a specially designed eco-friendly catering plan. Guests may select from an array of organically-raised and locally-sourced hors d’oeuvres such as Ernst Farm-raised Chicken Brochettes with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, Leslie Cooperband’s Creamy Goat’s Milk Cheese and Mick Klug Farm Fresh Blueberry Croustade and BLT Triangles from Organically grown Arugula and Green Acres Farm-produced Heirloom Tomatoes. Dinner options include greens from local farms, grass-fed Tallgrass beef, and breads from locally-based Red Hen Bakery. Certified organic wine, beer and spirits, as well as Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, a sustainable wine, will accompany the event. Perhaps the most important element of the affair, the cake, will come from Chicago’s Bittersweet Bakery, constructed entirely from organic ingredients. Green Meetings include organic catering replete with organic coffee, Green Market fruit and organic pastries, as well as regionally produced Wisconsin and Michigan cheeses to enjoy during the day.

Reservations are available by calling (312) 944-4100 or visiting

The InterContinental Chicago is the only hotel with a front entrance on the prestigious Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s most desirable address. Originally built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, an exclusive luxury men’s club, the InterContinental is one of Chicago’s most elegant landmarks. The hotel features 792 recently refurbished guest rooms, including 73 lavishly decorated suites. The hotel’s historic, junior Olympic size pool is recognized as one of the best indoor pools in the U.S. and is included in Chicago’s architectural tours. Dining and entertainment options in the hotel include: Zest, a bistro featuring contemporary, American cuisine; the Lobby Bar featuring classic cocktails and Eno, the hotel’s upscale, approachable and lively lounge that offers an easily paired selection of wine, cheese and chocolate.

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