Aspen LEEDS the way in green building |

Aspen LEEDS the way in green building

Allen Bestspecial to the daily

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – The Aspen Skiing Co. continues to LEED the way in green-building.The U.S. Green Building Council recently awarded platinum certification, the highest of four levels in the LEED program, for an employee housing project called the Holiday House. A mountain-top restaurant called Sam’s Smokehouse, located at the Snowmass ski area, was given gold, the third highest of four levels.Aspen Skiing has a long history with LEED buildings. In 1999, it developed one of the first LEED-certified buildings in the world. A golf clubhouse in 2003 received the silver-level certification, the second highest level.Auden Schendler, the company’s director of community and environmental responsibility, has been a stern critic of the LEED certification process, calling the process cumbersome with too little attention to energy efficiency. The process has improved somewhat, he says, with the LEED standards now putting a greater emphasis on energy savings.Still, Aspen actively seeks LEED certification. “As a business that’s trying to pursue legitimate sustainability, we need some level of third-party accountability,” Schendler told Mountain Town News. “LEED is the only certification that’s widely recognized.”That said, he stated Aspen’s first priority in designing buildings is energy efficiency.At the employee housing project, this was accomplished by using extremely efficient boilers, super-insulated foam-panel walls and roofs, and R-11 gas-filled windows. Altogether, the complex exceeds the local energy codes by 50 percent.The restaurant at Snowmass has R-49 foam insulation, high-efficiency boilers, and waterless urinals. The building’s mechanical system is projected to reduce energy use by 26 percent relative to a conventionally designed building.

JACKSON, Wyo. – Jackson continues to talk about what its famous downtown district should look like beyond the well-known gateways of antlers in the town square. What planning commissioners seem to agree upon is that they want a place that is more fully lived in, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.”Planning commissioners say they want to see buildings and businesses in town whose liveliness is indicated by lit rooms at night, and they want a community that fosters interaction between visitors and year-round residents.”This used to be called mixed-use development, although the phrase of late has been adulterated to mean pretty much whatever anybody wants it to mean.But whatever you call it, not everybody in Jackson agrees with this drift of thinking. Save Historic Jackson Hole, an organization, contends that many of the ideas are not rooted in hard data.

SILVERPLUME – Most people who drive west from Denver to Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and other ski areas assume that Interstate 70 and the tunnels were built to accommodate the resorts.Not true. Road engineers had thought the terrain too difficult and without sufficient need, so I-70 west from Denver was left out of the original bill passed by Congress in 1956 that created the interstate highway system. President Dwight Eisenhower was president, but Albert Gore – father of the Al Gore you’ve probably heard of – was a key leader in hammering out a compromise on the funding that resulted in the federal government paying 90 percent of construction costs.Another senator, Edwin C. Johnson, along with colleagues from Utah, argued for an addendum to the bill – and succeeded. The formal justification was that I-70 into Utah would cut three hours of drive time to Los Angeles.Colorado had just a handful of ski areas then, among them A-Basin, Aspen and Winter Park. Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and most of the rest weren’t even a gleam in anybody’s eye yet.But the federal money poured into Colorado, resulting in first the Eisenhower bore and then – 30 years ago this week – the opening of the Johnson Tunnel under the Continental Divide.

OURAY – Ouray has received $30,000 from the Colorado state government to install a turbine as needed to harness the power of water flowing toward the town’s commercial hot springs. The microhydro unit is expected to save the city $12,000 in electricity costs annually, with a total pay off of $370,000 during the 30 years life of the project, reports The Telluride Watch, which does business just over the hill from Ouray. Ouray is site of one of the continent’s premier ice-climbing events every January.

TELLURIDE – Most human bodies can adapt to the thinner air of higher elevations, notes The Telluride Watch. Not so, many gas appliances.The newspaper notes that the gas appliances are designed to function at sea level. Thus, at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, the elevation of most ski towns in Colorado, there is less air for combustion, which means natural gas or propane gets wastedA company called Rocky Mountain Energy Conservation can readjust the appliances, saving money and eliminating potential health hazards.

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