Skico, Intrawest: Base Village will be energy efficient |

Skico, Intrawest: Base Village will be energy efficient

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest have set a public goal to make the proposed Base Village development 30 percent more energy efficient than local energy codes require.

“Our goal is to exceed local energy codes by a minimum of 30 percent, and hopefully more,” wrote Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell and Paul Shepherd, a vice president of resort development with Intrawest, in a guest opinion piece in the Sept. 21 edition of the Aspen Times weekly.

The opinion piece also discloses that the two companies have hired an expert in energy efficiency to help design the project, which has close to a million square feet of new residential and commercial development, and it argues that when it comes to urban design, density is good.

The opinion piece is a response to a recent Aspen Times article pointing out that green building techniques had not yet been integrated into Base Village by either the Skico or Intrawest.

In terms of energy, the Skico and Intrawest write that the project’s mechanical systems present the biggest opportunity to make Base Village a greener project.

“Within the energy framework, the design of the mechanical system ? which includes heating and cooling, plumbing and lighting ? is the single biggest component of energy efficiency. To ensure our mechanical system is optimal, we are adding Peter Rumsey to our design team.”

The piece then directs readers to the Web site of Rumsey Engineers, a San Francisco firm that specializes in making buildings more energy efficient. The company’s Web site states that “often the best designs cost no more than standard designs. That’s because most efficiency improvements can be achieved with standard equipment, if that equipment is applied in a more thoughtful and efficient way.

“Our goal in each of our projects is to enhance the profitability of our clients by lowering energy costs while providing HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems that enhance employee comfort and productivity.”

O’Donnell and Shepherd write that “Peter will participate in design decisions and will ?commission? the mechanical system, meaning he will inspect and test it after it’s built to ensure that it runs at maximum efficiency.”

Also in the guest opinion piece, the two write that “the Base Village project has been criticized by some for its proposed mass and density. From an environmental perspective, this criticism is hard to understand.”

The piece then argues that mixed-use projects are more environmentally friendly than sprawl.

“Higher densities focus development where impact should occur, within the urban core,” O’Donnell and Shepherd write. “Density can offset land and infrastructure cost, creating more affordable spaces for retailers and homeowners.”

While that is generally true, few in Snowmass Village are arguing that the proposed Base Village project is not in the town’s core or that it shouldn’t be a mixed-unit development with both residential and commercial space. But some are suggesting that having 683 condos in a mix of buildings up to eight stories tall may be too much.

The developers close their piece with a pledge to make Base Village “restorative.”

“We submit that the stability of our community, its vibrancy and vigor and particularly its environmental and economic health, will improve if Base Village is restorative, representing the future of green design, not yesterday’s mistakes; if it is smart growth in the sense of development and complexity, not blind expansion; and if it incorporates open space and educational opportunity into the fabric of the town.”

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