Eagle County group helping businesses save energy | VailDaily.com

Eagle County group helping businesses save energy

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – With business owners everywhere squeezing pennies and hoping they get nickels, it can be hard to spend money on capital projects. But Jason Yeash said a recent project was easy to sell to his bosses.

Yeash, general manager of the Holiday Inn in West Vail, has led an energy efficiency project for the hotel. The project includes a recycling program for guests, cardboard recycling for the hotel and new windows. But the biggest item on the list is replacing every fluorescent light fixture in the hotel with new, more efficient ones.

It was an expensive project, requiring an electrical contractor from Denver to install the new fixtures. But between incentives from Holy Cross Energy, tax rebates and savings on the electric bill, Yeash said that project will pay for itself in less than a year.

“It was really a no-brainer,” Yeash said.

The Holiday Inn is the first local business to mostly complete an “Energy Smart” program for businesses being run by the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability. Funding by a grant from the state Governor’s Energy Office, the program is designed to help big and small businesses improve their energy efficiency, as well as other “sustainable” business practices.

With the recycling, window and lighting projects either complete or well-begun, Yeash said the next step is investigating the use of “green” cleaning products.

“Five years ago, there was an increase in using those products,” Yeash said. “Now distributors are dropping their costs, so it might make more sense.”

While the Holiday Inn is the first local business to get all the way through its “Energy Smart” program, John-Ryan Lockman of the Alliance said about 20 businesses have started the process of energy audits and recommendations.

Lockman said the Alliance can walk business owners through the maze of incentives, credits and rebates available, and point out where the most bang for the buck might be.

Much of the time, the easy step is lighting.

Kevin Selvey of Crazy Mountain Brewing in Edwards is working with the Alliance, and said many of the recommended changes are either free or don’t cost much. The program Crazy Mountain is working on now has a payback time of between four and six months, Selvey said.

“We use a lot of energy,” Selvey said. “(The Alliance) is helping us figure out how to use it more efficiently.”

Selvey said the lighting recommendations will both save money and put more light into the darker corners of the brewery. The recommendations can also help the brewery use less water, a big deal for a business that depends on water.

“Our goal is for other businesses to see the advantages of sustainability,” Lockman said. “It’s good for the bottom line, and good for the environment.”

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