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Iconic New York City hotels promise to go green

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Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File

(Read caption) The glitzy Waldorf Astoria is 84 years old and has hosted Marilyn Monroe, Fidel Castro, and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, as well as US presidents, who stay in a special suite designed to evoke the White House. It is one of 16 posh New York City hotels who have pledged to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Some of New York's most iconic hotels, comprising more than 11,000 guest rooms, promised to cut their carbon footprints Dec. 29 and join a city effort to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

The famed Waldorf Astoria, The Peninsula New York, and The Pierre are among 16 well-known, high-end hotels that committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Officials said they hope the move by the ritzy hotels, whose reputations are global, will inspire others to follow suit.

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"If some of New York's most iconic hotels can significantly reduce their carbon footprint, anyone can," said de Blasio in a statement.

The efforts to go green could include retrofitting buildings with updated, efficient equipment for heating and cooling, replacing boilers, improving lighting, and adding insulation.

Meeting the pledge at the glitzy Waldorf Astoria means updating a building that is 84 years old. It has hosted Marilyn Monroe, Fidel Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as well as US presidents who stay in a special suite designed to evoke the White House.

Cutting emissions follows the hotel's motto of "the difficult immediately, the impossible takes a bit longer," the Waldorf Astoria management said in a statement.

"We pride ourselves in the ability to embrace a challenge," said Michael Hoffmann, the hotel's managing director, in the statement.

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The 16 hotels, totaling more than 11,000 rooms, should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32,000 metric tons to live up to their pledge, according to city projections.

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The hotels' pledge is part of a wider municipal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Buildings make up nearly three-quarters of citywide emissions, authorities said.

At current rates, the pledges citywide to curb greenhouse gas emissions could yield results that compare to removing more than 100,000 cars, according to authorities.

• Reporting by Sebastien Malo, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. This story originally appeared on the website of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org.