Mountain News: Aspen LEEDs way in green building 

Wild Idea One of wildlife overpasses in Banff National Park. Photo by Western Transportation Institute


SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. - The Aspen Skiing Co. continues to LEED the way in green-building.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently awarded platinum certification, the highest of four levels in the LEED program, for an employee housing project called the Holiday House. A mountain-top restaurant called Sam's Smokehouse, located at the Snowmass ski area, was given gold, the third highest of four levels.

Aspen Skiing has a long history with LEED buildings. In 1999, it developed one of the first LEED-certified buildings in the world. A golf clubhouse in 2003 received the silver-level certification, the second highest level.

Auden Schendler, the company's director of community and environmental responsibility, has been a stern critic of the LEED certification process, calling the process cumbersome with too little attention to energy efficiency. The process has improved somewhat, he says, with the LEED standards now putting a greater emphasis on energy savings.

Still, Aspen actively seeks LEED certification. "As a business that's trying to pursue legitimate sustainability, we need some level of third-party accountability," Schendler told Mountain Town News. "LEED is the only certification that's widely recognized."

That said, he stated Aspen's first priority in designing buildings is energy efficiency.

At the employee housing project, this was accomplished by using extremely efficient boilers, super-insulated foam-panel walls and roofs, and R-11 gas-filled windows. Altogether, the complex exceeds the local energy codes by 50 per cent.

The restaurant at Snowmass has R-49 foam insulation, high-efficiency boilers, and waterless urinals. Altogether, the building's mechanical system is projected to reduce energy use by 26 per cent relative to a conventionally designed building.


Keeping hooves & hoods apart

VAIL, Colo. - In 1999, one of the new Canada lynx that had been released into Colorado a few months before got squashed on Interstate 70 just west of Vail Pass. It wasn't the only one to die there, either, showing just how dangerous that I-70 was for endangered critters in Colorado.

Now, an international contest is being sponsored, with teams invited to help design a better wildlife crossing. Parties from both Canada and the United States are involved in the competition, and they hope to create models that can be used not only at Vail Pass, but more broadly across north America.

Tony Clevenger, a wildlife ecologist most closely associated with the wildlife crossings in Banff National Park, suggested that the contest hopes to figure out a less expensive way to keep hoods and hooves apart.

"The possibilities for lighter, more durable, mobile and less expensive structures exist," he said.

The Montana-based Western Transportation Institute recently calculated that the average total costs associated with a single collision is $6,617in the case of a deer, $17,843 in elk collisions, and $30, 760 in the case of moose.

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