Feeling the heat
I would amplify some points in “Basalt’s green revolution” (March 20, The Aspen Times). While the Aspen Skiing Co. housing includes particularly great heat pump water heaters, switching to electric heat is also happening elsewhere.
Moby Gym at Colorado State University is being converted to heat pumps; Montana State University in Bozeman is converting buildings similarly. For years, Colorado Mesa University has used heat pumps sharing a campus “geo-loop.” Many super-insulated buildings use simple resistance heat and have low bills.
The Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center is heated primarily by resistance heat, using electricity worth about 25 cents per square foot each year for heat.
As advocated in the article, heating in new construction should always utilize electricity. Designers can sort out alternatives within that limitation. Electricity here comes from an increasing share of zero-emissions sources, including winter-peaking wind farms.
While EVs get all the press, electric-heating options currently exist. Gas has only limited, expensive possibilities for decarbonization. Two targets of petro-industry propaganda are electric heating codes and wind power. Is that because both are working now to significantly reduce fossil fuel use and associated emissions?
Compared to other resort areas, the snow country “carbon bootprint” includes much more heat in various forms. Winter sports advocacy groups, business groups, and local communities should get on this bandwagon. Aspen might want to revisit the geothermal well it tested for district heating. I’m probably dreaming about this, but heat pumps could boost that warm well water to temperatures useful for heating. Additionally, electric heating can operate along with gas, reducing the latter by 80% while managing electric demands.
I could go on, but maybe you’re ready to get to the desert. If it looks parched going downvalley, precipitation there has been two-thirds below normal for two years. This is a result of triple-glazing the planetary greenhouse with our emissions, but we can cut way back.