High Country Conservation Center expands energy-saving program to offer more money to local businesses | SummitDaily.com

High Country Conservation Center expands energy-saving program to offer more money to local businesses

Contractor Mark Anderson recently sealed air leaks outside the food bank of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Silverthorne. The FIRC completed the upgrades with financial help and guidance from High Country Conservation Center as part of the Silverthorne Energy Smart program funded by the town of Silverthorne.
Courtesy High Country Conservation Center |


Richmond Sprouse: Upgraded its lighting to save 9,155 kwh/year.

Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture: Changed its purchasing policies for buying more eco-friendly cleaning supplies, specifically eco-friendly hand sanitizers.

A & A Pet Supply: Upgraded lighting to save 1,686 kwh/year.

Copy Copy: Air sealing and insulation upgrade.

Stuhr and Associates: Upgraded thermostats and lighting.

10 Mile Kayak: Upgraded lighting to saving about 1,300 kwh/year.

Wilderness Sports: Changed out cleaning supplies and upgraded lighting to save about 1,645 kwh/year.

Island Grill: Buying four new recycling bins.

Cornflower: Lighting upgrade to save 1,225 kwh/year.

The estimated total kilowatt hours saved from these upgrades comes to 19,787 kilowatt-hours.


All Valley Storage: Upgraded lighting to LEDs at its three locations in Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge. At the Frisco location, savings amount to about 5,000 kwh/year.

Food Hedz: Upgraded refrigeration motors and fans saving more than 7,000 kwh/year.

Wyatt West: Upgraded lighting by replacing ballasts.

Prost: Refrigeration and lighting upgrade. Reduced refrigeration consumption by 136 kwh/year and lightning by 394 kwh/year.

The Boatyard, Silver Heels and 5th Avenue Grill: All plan to complete lighting upgrades by the end of the year.

The Peak School: Plans to adopt composting.

Greco’s: Upgraded lightning.

For the last 10 years, Food Hedz in Frisco has built its reputation based in part on its commitment to all-natural and organic foods.

Owner and chef David Welch said his customers expect a certain level of environmental responsibility, so spending thousands on efficiency upgrades to the restaurant’s refrigeration system only made sense.

“If we’re going do that with the food we should do that with our equipment as well,” he said. “We all want to save as much energy as we can.”

With help from the Frisco Clean Tracks program run by High Country Conservation Center, Welch doubled the capacity of his walk-in refrigerator this year.

He increased the number of compressors on the roof from one to two and upped the fans in the walk-in from two to four. His fans are now more energy efficient and cool the walk-in faster.

Not only does the eco-conscious upgrade help the restaurants’ bottom line, the new system reduces food waste and the risk of foodborne illnesses.

“It’s win, win and win all the way down the line,” Welch said.


In 2011, High Country Conservation Center, known as HC3, and Frisco officials realized local businesses wanted to become more environmentally friendly but weren’t sure how. The nonprofit center created a program, Frisco Clean Tracks, that uses government funding to offer businesses free resources and incentives.

HC3 offers free energy and sustainability audits, recommends priority projects, educates business owners about equipment deals and rebates, and provides coaching and other assistance throughout the process.

The program also gives a $200 stipend to put toward one project, which businesses have to complete to become Clean Tracks certified.

In the last few years, the program expanded to Breckenridge (SustainableBreck Business) and Silverthorne (Silverthorne Energy Smart).

Breckenridge Grand Vacations recently completed a project at its Breck Inn. The company upgraded the crawl space and attic by sealing air leaks and installing a vapor barrier, a radon system and insulation.

The Family and Intercultural Resource Center, in Silverthorne, also recently sealed air leaks around its food pantry with help from the program.

In total, 69 businesses have participated throughout the county, and 34 of those are in Frisco.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the center held a dinner celebration at Food Hedz in Frisco for businesses that have participated in the program in the last two years.

The center’s energy-focused staff members, Marty James and Kevin Berg, highlighted business accomplishments, including those of Food Hedz, which invested more than most to reap some of the biggest savings.

The restaurant should save about $700 a year starting next summer, Welch said.

Between the free help from the center and rebates from energy providers, James said she doesn’t see why businesses wouldn’t want to take advantage of the program to go green. “That’s where things are headed.”



In 2015, the center will recruit fewer businesses and offer them more money to complete larger projects.

Instead of offering $200 to 10 businesses in each of the three participating towns, HC3 will provide five $200 and six $400 stipends. The larger rebates will be targeted to businesses that have already participated and received one of the $200 stipends.

The change comes because the center has seen interest in the program decrease among local businesses. HC3’s staff also wants to encourage businesses to tackle larger projects they’ve shied away from because of upfront costs.

“We got all the early adopters in the first couple years,” said Jen Schenk, the center’s executive director. Now, “we really want to see deeper projects — things that reduce carbon emissions and save the businesses money.”

She said she especially hopes businesses choose to tackle lightning upgrades, which are among the easiest changes to make to see fast, meaningful results.

Businesses can also take advantage of Xcel Energy rebates for lightning upgrades, which Welch said Food Hedz plans to do in the spring.

James said she’s excited to partner with more business owners who would wait to complete expensive projects without the few hundred dollars the center provides.

“For some of these smaller businesses, that is a chunk of change,” she said.

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