Sundeck is now officially a `green building’ |

Sundeck is now officially a `green building’

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Aspen Skiing Co. recently became one of the first companies to be given environmental certification for a “green building” by the U.S. Green Building Council, for its work on the new Sundeck on Aspen Mountain.

At a Tuesday news conference, Pat O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Skico, said the certification is a significant step toward the company’s goal to build environmentally friendly buildings.

“This award shows that our employees and our company walk the talk in our commitment to environmental issues,” he said.

The U.S. Green Building Council, a coalition of organizations from throughout the building industry, has established strict guidelines through its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program to help builders create buildings that don’t take a heavy toll on the environment. The program establishes criteria for what makes a building “green.”

More than 40 projects were submitted for certification this year, but just 11 ultimately met the stringent criteria required by the council.

Other buildings gaining certification included the Olympic ice skating facility in Salt Lake City, an Environmental Protection Agency office in Kansas City, and a laboratory and office at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The Sundeck was the only resort-oriented building to be recognized.

Chris Lane, director of environmental affairs for the Skico, said several key alterations were made during construction of the Sundeck to qualify it for the certification.

He said 3,700 feet of recycled materials were used for building the deck, CFCs were eliminated from the refrigeration systems, insulation and carpet pads were designed to reduce toxins, wind power is used for 30 percent of the building’s energy needs, and an energy-efficient lighting design was used that reduces energy use and light pollution.

According to O’Donnell, the additional costs incurred were somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of the entire construction costs. He said that added effort and cost may someday pay off for the company.

“Would customers select a resort because of its environmental policies? Right now I don’t think so,” he said. “But if all factors are equal, I like to think in the future the environmentally responsible resort would get the nod.”

O’Donnell credited Lane and his Environmental Affairs Department for bringing the certification to fruition.

“It’s rewarding to play a part in defining what comprises a green building,” said Lane. “This is a pilot program and other applicants will now have Aspen Skiing Company as a reference point.”

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