Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge gets EPA energy award |

Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge gets EPA energy award

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Breckenridge, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE ” Little things like changing the lightbulbs and turning down the heat added up to make a big difference at the Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge.

An energy audit and subsequent retrofit at the hotel was enough to cut energy use significantly during the past seven months.

The environmental effort was recognized by the EPA Friday with an Energy STAR award, handed out to commercial buildings and industrial plants that rate in the top 25 percent of facilities in the nation for energy efficiency.

“I’m really proud. It’s really exciting,” said general manager Bruce Ruggs, explaining how a company-wide green team helped spur the move toward greater efficiency. “We’re the only hotel in the Rocky Mountain region to have this.”

The Great Divide Lodge uses 49.6 percent less energy than the national average for similar hotels. The energy savings were achieved by managing energy strategically across the entire property.

“Just turning down the heat in the common areas is huge,” said chief engineer Ben Raitano.

Cost-effective improvements to the building included retrofitting lighting and installing timers and sensors. A green team at the lodge also worked to increase employee awareness about conservation.

“It comes from the top and it’s important to our guests,” Ruggs said, crediting Vail Resorts chief Rob Katz with setting the tone for the hotel’s sustainability initiative by seeking to reduce energy consumption throughout the company by 10 percent by 2010.

The efforts should pay off for the company, which spends about $25 million per year on energy costs.

“It takes time and a concerted effort, but it’s good fiscally, good for the community and good for the environment,” said Stan Brown, president of RockResorts and Vail Resorts Hospitality. “Vail Resorts Hospitality has a long-standing commitment to responsible stewardship of our natural mountain settings and the facilities we operate in these locations.”

Energy costs make up about 6 percent of a hotel’s total operating cost. Reducing energy usage by 10 percent is the same as increasing revenues by raising room rates ” without any financial impacts to guests, said the EPA’s Barbara Conklin.

“You scored 95 out of 100,” she said as she presented a plaque on behalf of the agency. “You should be proud of that.”

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at

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