I spent the week before Christmas skiing in Aspen, and, go figure, certainly couldn’t escape news on the greening of America there.
The big news, that I found reported earlier in the Aspen Times: Amory Lovins is stepping down as CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which he co-founded over 30 years ago. He will step aside to become RMI’s Chief Scientist, and RMI is looking for a new CEO. For those of you that don’t know, Lovins is one of the most recognized names in energy efficiency in America. If you think you can follow in his footsteps, take a chance and apply for the job! You can email RMI’s HR Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then while taking a brief time out from skiing (I am not actually very good) I went in to drink coffee in the sunny lodge of the Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain. The first thing you notice walking through the front door (besides the massage chair, which I really needed after a day of skiing) is the plaque which bills the Sundeck as one of the first 10 LEEDs buildings in America. Details of the Sundeck Restaurant project here. The total cost was $9.8 mm, or an eye-popping $425/square foot (I assume driven partly by LEEDs requirements, and partly by the top of a ski resort location!). But the part I liked the most was the re-use of 86% of the materials from the previous Sundeck building. Because at the end of the day, despite all the advances in cleantech – the real answer to our energy issues is still the same – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.
This got me interested in what else Aspen was doing in its environmental program:
Aspen Skiing Company joined the fight for climate change this year and among other parts of its environmental program, is now 100% wind powered, through the purchase of wind energy credits.
Aspen also fuels its snowcats with biodiesel, from Blue Sun Biodiesel. The best part is they actually publish on their website an interesting description of the impact of the biodiesel use: “In the winter of 2002, ASC experimented with an 80% diesel/20% biodiesel blend. Mechanics noticed that the fuel, which makes snowcat exhaust smell like french fries, radically reduced black tailpipe smoke and that the snowcats ran smoother, a result of biodiesel’s higher lubricity, a quality that also extends the life of mechanical components. Based on our testing, ASC has now switched its entire fleet of snowcats to biodiesel. The cost is about 20 cents more per gallon, a small cost to pay for benefits that include hydrocarbon emissions reductions of 20% and CO and particulate reductions of 10%. The one drawback is that biodiesel typically increases NOx emissions by 2%. “More details here.
And finally, for someone keenly interested in the carbon credit /green tag sector, I noticed while standing in the lift lines, that Aspen Snowmass now sells carbon offset SkiGreen Tags ($20) and SkiGreen Mini-Tags ($2), so environmentally conscious skiers can offset their ski lift-driven C02 usage. They are doing this in partnership with the Bonneville Environment Foundaton. More info here.
Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to AltEnergyStocks.com.