The addition of single-stream recycling containers helped ResortQuest Vacation Rentals earn the gold certification from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Sustainable Steamboat Business Program.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The addition of single-stream recycling containers helped ResortQuest Vacation Rentals earn the gold certification from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Sustainable Steamboat Business Program.

Environmental program helps Steamboat businesses plan sustainability measures

Sustainability strong

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Trappeurs Crossing Resort in Steamboat, managed by ResortQuest, is giving its guests biodegradable room keys to access their rooms. The cards replace the traditional plastic key cards.

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Sponges made out of walnut shells replace traditional sponges in the kitchens at Trappeurs Crossing Resort.

Several Steamboat Springs businesses are ratcheting up their "green" programs.

The Sustainable Steamboat Business Program is pulling in new members across industries, Lyn Halliday said, and a roofing company in the area is checking out an unusual type of recycled material.

Halliday, principal of Environmental Solutions Unlimited, helps businesses plan their sustainability measures. The program is operated through the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

"I'm excited to report that we have exceeded the 50-business mark as of about two weeks ago," Halliday said last week, the day after No. 53 signed up.

She said no one industry is represented more than another.

"It continues to be a very diverse group, which, to me, is very encouraging," Halliday said.

The program also is drawing in more of its targeted businesses: property management companies and restaurants, she said.

Of the first sector, Resort Group, Moving Mountains Chalets, Simply Steamboat, Central Park Management and ResortQuest Steamboat Vacation Rentals are part of the program. In the restaurant arena, Ore House at the Pine Grove just signed on, Halliday said. Bistro c.v. is a longtime member, and the restaurants Rex Brice runs are part of the program. Those are Big House Burgers, Mazzola's Italian Restaurant and Rex's American Grill & Bar.

Halliday said she would like to see more from both areas, adding that property management companies are key.

"They're potentially good savers or reducers of energy and of water and of waste, certainly," she said.

'Greening' properties

ResortQuest received its gold certification from the program last month. Moving toward sustainability can be challenging for property management companies because they don't own the units, Sales and Marketing Director Katy Martin said. ResortQuest runs properties including Trappeur's Crossing Resort.

The company uses low-energy bulbs and watches water use in its common areas, but it's up to unit owners to add their own energy- and water-saving measures.

"Some of that is part of our goal for next year, to work with owners on low-flow showers and taps and toilets," Martin said.

In guest rooms, ResortQuest offers single-stream recycling of glass, plastic, paper and other items, which housekeeping collects daily. The company uses biodegradable cardboard room keys and posts placards encouraging visitors to save energy and reuse towels. Trappeur's also offers locally produced sweets by Yepello as treats and biodegradable Thymes Eucalyptus PaperBottles for toiletries.

People expect sustainable measures, Martin said. It also helps the company to be known as "green," she said.

"We're also taking the attitude that at times of adversity, you need to be innovative," Martin said.

Raising a roof

Across town on the western side, roofing company Wilson recently redid a roof mostly using recycled metal, said Sean Winter, an accountant with the company. Wilson is not a member of Steamboat's sustainability program.

The company, owned by Seth Wilson, has been in the Yampa Valley for 15 years, Winter said. This was its first time using its "green" machine. The structure pushes a coil of metal through and creates a panel for the building.

"It : makes the profile of the panel that we need for that job," Winter said. "And everything's seamless, you know, so you don't have to buy pre-manufactured panels."

Wilson also does solar panels, Winter said, and is seeing increased interest in its sustainability measures.

"We're definitely, we're really pushing toward going green on almost everything, and it's our first project of recycled metal," he said.

The future

Halliday was optimistic that the Sustainable Steamboat Business Program would continue to grow.

Businesspeople are networking with each other, and a task force plans to campaign for sustainability next year, she said. Measures could focus on clean air, tree planting, energy or biking, Halliday said.

"There's a lot of dedicated folks in the valley, and it's nice when you get them talking to each other," she said.

Halliday acknowledged that some businesses might think they can't afford sustainable measures in a down economy.

"Have they tapered off? Not right now, they haven't," she said. "I've seen a pretty good increase just this past month. It remains to be seen how 2009 will pan out."

Halliday pointed out that energy- and water-saving measures also were money-saving measures.

"Saving money has become more and more important," she said. "It's also become more and more viable. We've seen the water rates go up in Steamboat. I've had a lot of businesses talk to me about that - how can they save water so they can reduce their costs."

She encouraged businesses to examine the benefits.

"I'm a glass-half-full person, so I like to look at that and say, 'Hey, guys, this is a good opportunity not only to market and to be something the consumer is looking for, but to save more and more on your bottom line," Halliday said.

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