We are proud of the Antlers’ longstanding leadership in environmental consciousness. This gorgeous valley is our home, and our staff appreciates the important role business must play in reducing waste and pollution. We revel in creating ideas and programs that have proven distinctly successful. In recognition of past and current sustainability efforts, a few years after being awarded Business of the Year, the Antlers at Vail was named “Vail Valley Green Business of the Year” (the awards presentation is pictured above left).
People don’t remember it much any more, but back in the 80’s there was a significant wood smoke pollution problem in Vail. Because of the tight valley and the temperature inversions, it was not unusual in the winter for a terrible smokey haze to permeate the core area. It was commonly recognized as one of Vail’s more significant problems … just check the community surveys from those days. In 1992 the Antlers led the way and voluntarily converted all 70 wood burning fireplaces to natural gas. The cost was over $70,000 … a lot back then. Perhaps more importantly, afterwards we helped encourage a number of other properties to do the same. Today there are far more gas burning fireplaces in the core area than there are wood burning and it has absolutely eliminated the pollution problem. In 1995 the Antlers was awarded the very first Town of Vail Mauri Nottingham Environmental Award, specifically for this fireplace conversion project as well as our influence on other subsequent conversions.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Services
The Antlers recently invested in environmentally friendly laundry equipment costing about $17,000. The ozone generator allows the hotel laundry to use cooler water temperatures saving considerable energy. We also use phosphate-free detergent and other biodegradable products in that laundry, thus generating far less pollution than other similar operations. Bill Jones services more than 80 commercial laundries in the Eagle and Roaring Fork Valleys through his company, In-House Laundry. Bill recently stated that he thought the Antlers laundry was the “greenest” one in either valley.
In 1988, the Antlers staff adopted a two-mile stretch along I-70 near the top of Vail Pass. Every single year since then, and sometimes twice a year, the Antlers employees spend a good part of the day cleaning that section of highway. It’s voluntary, but the Antlers does pay everyone their regular wage for the time spent cleaning. Afterwards, we come back to the hotel and have a poolside BBQ or some kind of picnic lunch to celebrate.
Over the years we have coordinated a number of times with other clean-up groups including the Colorado Friends of John Denver as well as Ellie Caryl and the ECO Trails volunteer crew. Each time we have included them in our luncheon, which the Antlers sponsors at no cost to them.
Some years we advertise a “Trash Pickin’ and Picnicin” weekend. Guests who help us clean up the highway for a few hours get the picnic for sure … but also a free night stay! The next one will probably be in April or May of 2014 … come join us!
In about 1990, We Recycle (headed by Mauri Nottingham) started up a county-wide recycling program. The Antlers quickly came to appreciate that curbside recycling was extremely expensive for that operation. It just wasn’t cost effective. At that time, we started collecting recyclables not only from our internal operations, but also encouraging our guests to participate in the program. A sign can be found in every one of our rental condominiums inviting them to help. More importantly, for many years we made the commitment to take our recyclables over to the central collection point regularly, rather than expecting someone to come pick them up.
Our housemen, housekeepers and maintenance crew would load plastic, glass, cans, cardboard, newspapers and office paper into an old van (dedicated to this one purpose) every single day. Once or twice a week it took two guys about an hour and a half to drive the van over, sort everything and deposit it at the collection center. We think our annual commitment in those days from wages and hard costs were close to $10,000 a year. Our total recyclable volume was about 20 tons a year.
A couple years ago, we started to contract with Waste Management to pick up our recyclables next to our regular trash collection. By having a central collection dumpster on site (rather than the old recycle van) it makes it easier for us to recycle even more material. While we appreciate the importance of recycling, we always keep in mind the fact that reducing and reusing is even better.
We don’t stop there however. We have made a conscience effort to properly dispose of batteries, light bulbs, ink toner, wine corks and all electronics, big or small, that have seen their better days.
Shampoo, Body Wash, Conditioner and Lotion
We have recently purchased custom, refillable, amenities containers for all our condominiums and common area facilities. As a result, the Antlers has eliminated the 20,000 or so two ounce containers that were either thrown away or recycled every year. Half used bar soaps is also a thing of the past. Initially there was some concern about our guests and their acceptance of this new practice, but to our delight, the positive feedback has been over-whelming.
Water Saving Measures
For many years (even before it was popular) the Antlers has encouraged our guests to help us conserve water. This sign has been in every one of our guest bathrooms (we now have 151 of them) since the early 1990’s.
We recently bought fourteen solar panels which are installed in a two acre array down by the Rifle airport. The power they generate is fed into the grid of Holy Cross Energy (our electric utility) and we see the credit on our monthly electric bill, without ever having to handle the installation or maintenance of the panels. It’s a significant investment, but one which will pay itself off in about ten years and then continue to generate “free” energy for many years after that. Our hope is to continue buying a number of panels each year, as we can afford to.
Lots of Little Things
Community Support – As a result of our ongoing and varied support of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, the Antlers enjoys the designation as the “Official Hotel” of that organization.
Bus Passes – As a way to encourage employees to use ECO transit rather than drive, the Antlers pays the entire cost of the bus pass for every employee who will use it. That will be about a $12,000 commitment this year.
Wind Energy – Since 2004 we have been paying a small premium to purchase some amount of “wind energy” through Holy Cross Energy.
Beverage Bar – We provide complimentary ceramic mugs at the coffee bar in our lobby, encouraging guests to use those rather than disposable paper cups. The same area dispenses filtered water, with a sign encouraging guests to refill their water bottles there, rather than buy more plastic bottles.
Automatic Light Switches – The lights in most of our common areas (restrooms, business center, etc) are on motion detectors that turn them off automatically after ten minutes of inactivity.
Automatic Setback Thermostats – The thermostats in our conference rooms and housekeeping department are programmable to automatically reduce the energy use.
Do Not Waste Energy – All employees of the Antlers make an effort to “power down” when they are leaving a room or leaving for the day. This includes shutting down computers, printers, lights and anything else that uses energy. It is our version of the E.P.A. (Electrical Preservation Activity). We track our energy consumption and reward ourselves with the savings.
L.E.D. Lighting - The use of standard lighting has quickly become a thing of the past. We have replaced and will continue to replace standard light bulbs with more expensive and efficient L.E.D. fixtures.
On Site Housing – Providing on-site housing for nine employees (almost 25% of our staff) significantly reduces vehicle trips to and from the property.
Loaner Car – We have a minivan expressly for the use of our condominium owners when they’re in residence. For many of them this eliminates the need to rent a car to get here, and allows them to use a more environmentally friendly shuttle service instead.
Purchase Supplies with Recyclable Content – The Antlers has always tried to buy paper and other office supplies that are made with recyclable content. Even if we have to pay a premium of up to 15% more (which is usually not the case these days) we still try to do that.
Smart Landscape Sprinkler Clock – Recently, when we needed to replace the clock that controls our landscape sprinkler system, we opted for a more sophisticated one. By spending close to a thousand dollers, rather than just a couple hundred, our system automatically knows not only when to water, but how MUCH to water. Sure, it senses the amount of moisture in the ground like some other systems, but is also electronically “hip” to the forecast. Even if the ground is dry, if there’s a 70% chance of rain LATER in the day, the sprinklers don’t kick on. How cool is that?