Getting to know green things in the Vail Valley |

Getting to know green things in the Vail Valley

Cassie Pence
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoEd Swinford, right, looks out a window during last year's Vail Valley Healthy Homes Tour in Edwards. This year's tour features two green homes, both in Edwards.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –It’s not everyday in Colorado’s Vail Valley that you can drink beer, dance, snuggle a llama, take your picture in an eco coffin and consider yourself a steward of the earth all at the same time. But on Saturday, the Healthy Homes Fair and Tour presents this righteous opportunity.

The event has two parts: part fair and part tour. At Nottingham Park in Avon, the Healthy Home Fair hosts 33 exhibitors showcasing ideas, products and services that are shaping the green revolution. The Healthy Homes Tour takes you to two green homes in Edwards to show these ideas in action.

With all this fun and education at stake, what’s the best way to participate, you ask? Here’s one suggestion on how to do the Healthy Homes Fair and Tour.

To maximize your good time, there are a few things you need to bring to the Healthy Homes Fair and Tour. Culligan will serve up fresh, cold water, so bring your own canteen. Water is never enough on a Saturday, so you’ll want to have your own cup, too, as it will get you $1 off the recommended $5 donation for Sierra Nevada beer. Yes, I did say donation: The beer is free.

Along with beer money, stuff cash in your pocket for food and maybe a birdhouse. Pan for Hire will cook up gourmet fare all day, as will Nicky’s Quickie, who serves organic Greek food, and you can bid on a birdhouse during a silent auction from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This one might be a little harder to come by for some, but bring a kid. The Healthy Home Fair hosts a ton of activities for children, like face painting and a making bird feeders, and kids of all ages love llamas. Paragon Guides and a llama will be on hand to talk about how llamas are a good alternative form of transportation through the woods.

Don’t worry about bringing a bag for all the cool, sustainable SWAG you’ll pick up. Volunteers will hand out reusable bags from PCL Construction and the Governor’s Energy Office.

Centrally located in Avon, attendees are encouraged to ride their bikes. There’s no need for a car to get to the tour homes in Edwards because town of Avon buses will take you there for free. Shuttle vans run continuously between the two homes. Buses depart from the fair to the homes throughout the day in hour intervals from 10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

If you do drive, pack it in like a clown car. Carpooling is cool. Maps showing how to get to the homes on tour are available at the Healthy Home Fair, if you prefer to pass on the buses.

Upon arriving, check the demonstration schedule and plan your fair-saunter around that. Maybe you are a localvore and want to learn how to can at 11 a.m., taught by the experts from Dish! restaurant in Edwards. Or, maybe veggie power is your bag, and you want to hear Dar Lor from Summit Creasecycling explain how to run your car on vegetable oil.

Once you’ve determined when to hit the demo tent, it’s time to make your rounds from booth to booth. Need some new wheels? Head over to Mountain Utility Electric Vehicles and test drive an electric scooter. Skip over to Ecoffins USA and find out how you can take your eco-conscience to the grave.

Find out what the heck is geothermal energy from the peeps at SMC Geothermal, and then grab a lemon bar from Organic Housekeepers – try to chew slowly, and learn how to clean using lemons, vinegar and other natural ingredients. Now it’s about beer-thirty, pull out your cup and have a cold one from Sierra Nevada.

After an early morning, mid-afternoon beer, walk five minutes to the adjacent Westin (or ride in the hotel’s hybrid Chevy Tahoe), where you can take a self-guided tour of the LEED-certified building. Given by the United States Green Building Council, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Visit staff reception tables for general information.

Back at the fair, it’s time to load a bus and see sustainable building ideas in action at the two tour homes. The Navarro-Wear residence is a Gold LEED certified home, the highest standard of green building possible.

It’s here where tour attendees will see how sustainability can also be luxurious when it comes to decor. The Navarro-Wear home features many unique finishes, like concrete countertops in the kitchen and on the downstairs wet bar from Concrete Revolutions in Denver. The wet bar upstairs features a countertop made from compressed sorghum grass, from Kirei out of California.

In the master bathroom, countertops and tub surround is Icestone, a material made of concrete and recycled glass chips, made by Icestone, LLC out of New York. The downstairs bathroom countertops are fashioned from limestone or granite remnants salvaged locally from the stone yards in Gypsum.

The second home is in Heritage Park, a 12-acre site in Homestead in Edwards that will host 24 homes when complete. Built and developed by Jim Guida, it’s considered the Vail Valley’s first green neighborhood.

All of the homes exceed the Eco-Build and Built Green standards, two organizations that set building criteria to help stimulate environmental awareness, and all of the homes are Energy Star rated, as well, which means the houses meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The 14th home on Lot 8 is on display, and it’s the green pinnacle for the project thus far. This is the first Heritage Park home that uses renewable energy, and tour attendees will see what measures should be taken to tighten a home and increase its energy efficiency.

The tour is a great opportunity to ask questions, as experts like architect Ann Darby Kreig, who helped design the Heritage Park project, are on hand to give answers.

Returning to the fair after seeing many of green products and services on display in action is a perfect opportunity to collect literature on the ones that really interest you. Fill your canvas bag and head back for a beer, lunch and dancing. Local musician Scotty Stoughton’s BonFire Dub Trio will be projecting good vibes into the air with their reggae-inspired originals from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Oh, and don’t forget to snuggle the llama.

Cassie Pence is a freelance writer based in Vail. She volunteers for the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and the Healthy Home Fair and Tour.

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