As reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Considered one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world, San Francisco and its residents are no strangers to hugging trees and letting yellow mellow. So why have its hotels taken so long to catch on? It's a densely populated city with gobs of tourists and conventioneers, which means there are a large number of hotels (about 215 in all). There are standard chains and high-end luxury hotels; there are flea bags and hostels. And yet, there are only a handful of eco-hotels.

The newest-and greenest-is the Orchard Garden Hotel, which was opened in November 2006 by the folks who run its sister property down the street, the Orchard Hotel (equally pleasant, not as green). The Orchard Garden is the only LEED-certified hotel in California and was the third to be named as such in the United States; currently, there are only five LEED-certified hotels in the world.

(For those of you scratching your heads over the LEED acronym, learn it now, because it's going to become standard lingo as we Earthlings continue to clean up our act. It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council to determine just how sustainable and environmentally friendly allegedly "green" buildings truly are, based on water and energy use, among other factors.)

What does this mean, if anything, to the average hotel guest? You can feel good about staying here versus, for instance, some chain down the street that likely uses fluorescent bulbs and toxic cleaning products.

In addition to being green, clean and serene, the Orchard Garden is ideally situated a few blocks from Union Square (prime for shopping, public transportation and sightseeing) and literally down the street from the Dragon Gates that guard the entrance to city's famously huge China Town.

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