Sustainability … One Step at a Time

When it comes to “going green”, the job is never done.  Or perhaps with a bit more positive spin … the opportunities are endless.  The fact is, you can never do too much, but every little bit helps.

At the Antlers we’re proud of our previous accomplishments, but still try to employ one or two additional initiatives each year. Sometimes those are expansions of existing programs and others are completely new efforts. This year we had some of each.  For starters, we bought another eight solar panels to go with the fourteen we already had. Then Greg Ziccardi spearheaded the effort to install over 1,300 LED lights in the condominiums (how many Sustainability Coordinators does it take to screw in a light bulb?).  This, in addition to the hundreds that Greg had already placed in our conference rooms and other common areas.

Under the heading of “brand new accomplishments”, last month we installed a SEMA electric car charger.

car charger

It cost roughly $3,000 for the charger itself, but we also had to run 220V service to the pedestal, which made the installation another $1,500 or so. We figured it would be quite awhile before we saw an economic return on that investment, but that’s okay … we’ve already picked most of the low hanging fruit when it comes to sustainability initiatives that actually save money.  However, to our surprise (and delight), in the first couple weeks after it was in place, we had two different Tesla owners call to make room reservations because they saw our location on their car charging phone app.  How cool is that?

Tesla charging c

Then, in order to take full advantage, we bought an electric hybrid Ford C-Max to use for running around town, as well as shuttling Antlers guests when we can. The cool thing about the C-Max is, like many new-technology hybrids, it runs on sheer electric power for the first 20 miles or so.  So if you just run to the supermarket or the post office like we usually do, it never uses any gas!  If we have to go to Denver or somewhere else, the self-charging battery/gas operation kicks in and it has a range of 500 miles or so at 40+ mpg.

Here’s the scoop on the car charger … It costs us about 80 cents an hour when it’s charging a car.  Most cars (it varies widely, of course) will get about fifteen to twenty miles per hour of charging.  That works out to be well less than half the cost of gas, again depending on the car’s fuel efficiency. Guests of the Antlers will not have to pay to charge their car.  In addition to just encouraging sustainable behavior, it’s our way of saying, “Thanks for staying with us!”

car charger sign

For someone who’s just passing through, stops for lunch and wants to “juice up” before they get on the road again, the charge will be $1.95 an hour.  That will help us recoup a little of the installation costs, and is still similar to, or even less than the cost of gas.

Given that some of the electricity we purchase from Holy Cross Energy is generated from those solar panels, and we’ve also been buying their wind power for years, it’s fun to think that our electric car and those of our guests  are truly running on renewable energy.

Now … what’s next?

Greg Gone Green

“Going Green” in the lodging industry is not a trend anymore; it’s a way to do business.  Since the early eighties, the Antlers have been committed to green practices.  Recently we have introduced even more initiatives.  Our Sustainability Coordinator believes the new innovations available to all of us not only save energy and reduce waste, but often save the other kind of green ($) at the same time.  “There truly is a balance, sacrificing comfort or quality is not part of the equation anymore.”

A few examples that are now in place, or soon to be in place are the refillable amenities containers that are in all the guest condominiums. Standard globe lighting is being replaced with more expensive but longer lasting L.E.D lighting. Energy management systems are being installed in some of our condominiums which recognize when a room is not occupied and activates a “sleep” mode for energy consumption. We are investigating and considering the idea of “staging” the energy consumption in our building in order to not reach peak demand periods as other properties do.

Some of these ideas and many more are unique to the Vail Valley.  We have taken the lead once again and hope to continue to set an example for all others to follow.