RIDGWAY – Chipeta Sun Lodge and Spa in Ridgway's Solar Ranches is going green. With the term “green” being applied to everything from power to building to conventions, what does it mean to be green in the hotel industry?
In January Chipeta Lodge and Spa began implementing conservation and sustainability initiatives to meet the Green Hotel Association Certification Seal, an independent certification process based on employing international energy-and waste-reduction standards within the hospitality industry that generate better environmental practices.
The fact that Chipeta was green at the outset, back in 1993, when “we designed and built the lodge using green standards before those standards even existed,” said Chipeta owner Jack Young, has helped facilitate the certification process.
Young described the original lodge as an efficient adobe structure built with recycled timber and designed to maximize passive solar gain with a large solarium (helping to produce radiant heat) as well as solar panels that heat their water and pool.
“The choices we've made all along for Chipeta had conservation and efficiency in mind,” said Young.
As Jessica Bresett, head of Chipeta’s Green Division, explained, “The lodge and spa always focused on environmentally friendly practices, like using mostly organic products, encouraging reuse and recycling programs to guests, and practicing energy efficiency.” She’s especially proud of having attained the Green Hotel Association Certification. “It is beneficial because it sets a nationwide standard,” and lets guests “who are environmentally inclined know that Chipeta Lodge and Spa live up to all their expectations."
The official greening of the Chipeta began in January, however, after Bresett and fellow Chipeta employee Josh Freed attended a meeting in Denver on green standards in the hospitality industry hosted by the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association.
“We found out what needed to be done,” she said, and, back at Chipeta “began holding a green meeting once a month to discuss and come up with plans to implement our goals,” she said. “We have completed most of our major goals, but there are still a lot of little details that will take some more time,” said Bressett, adding that, “We planned to be up to the standards by August, but it is a bigger task than we had anticipated.”
Certification criteria cover everything from energy efficiency and management to greenhouse gas emissions, water conservation and management, indoor and outdoor air quality, waste management facility management, and community, cultural and social issues.
Chipeta has met a host of new environmental standards as the result of its greening process. All lighting is now energy-efficient; the laundry and cleaning materials are organic and biodegradable; the reservations office is now paperless, with correspondence and reservations and department-to-department communications online. Organic biodegradable bath products are placed in the rooms, and the Chipeta Spa uses all-organic mostly local products.
“A significant part of The Green Hotel Certification is to bring in a community component,” said Bresett. "We buy locally whenever possible,” she added, with “locally made products in the spa as well as locally and regionally produced food in the restaurant.”
Young added that, “Chipeta has always been accessible to the community. Our fitness center is open to public membership, and hosts classes and events that anyone can join.” The same is true of the restaurant, which is, Young says, “open to the community, and has local music twice a week all summer.”
Part of the green-action plan is to become more involved with the local community through community enrichment projects.
“We are setting up a volunteerism program for our guests where they can work with a local volunteer group on a community project,” explained Bresett. Possible volunteerism opportunities, she added, “include a trail building project with Ouray Trail Group or some sort of educational project with Mount Sneffels Education Foundation.”
Chipeta's continued greening process includes the installation of a bevy of energy-efficient systems, from room key cards inserted to turn on and off utilities; toilets and showers featuring water-saving devices; and car-pool programs for employees.
“This is a dedicated team effort,” said Bresett. “Everyone at the lodge is committed, to the greening process, and we know that it is beneficial to the larger community.”