The Steamboat Springs Building for Health store on Fourth Street offers a variety of environmentally friendly materials and home-decor items.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The Steamboat Springs Building for Health store on Fourth Street offers a variety of environmentally friendly materials and home-decor items.

Businesses learn about going green to save green

Sustainability luncheon addresses money-saving measures

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Volunteers are invited to the 'beetle rebuttal' tree-planting project Friday at Steamboat Lake State Park. Go Alpine is offering a free bus from the U.S. Forest Service building at 9:30 a.m., and planting starts at 10:30. RSVP to Lyn Halliday at 879-6323 or lhalliday@environ... if you plan to ride the bus.

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Have a Twitter account? You can follow the Sustainable Business Program at SustainableBoat.

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www.epa.gov/recovery/

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Businesses interested in stepping toward sustainability would do well to start with water conservation, Lyn Halliday told a group this month.

Halliday encouraged responsible water use at a Sustainable Business Program lunch June 12. Doug Hurth provided details about how to save money and water. He co-owns Building for Health, a shop that sells green construction materials, furniture and decor items.

Conserving water requires an initial investment, Hurth said. But switching to a tankless water heater, for example, can save as much as 40 percent in energy costs. In many cases, tax credits are available for green improvements.

The U.S. government approved a credit for tankless water heaters in February, Hurth said. People can save 30 percent of as much as $1,500 of the cost of a heater starting Jan. 1, 2010.

"Saving water is saving money these days," Halliday said.

She hopes to get businesses, particularly lodging properties, on board with water conservation. Products such as low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets can save thousands of gallons of water over time, Hurth said.

Changing from a shower head that sprays 2.5 gallons per minute to one that sprays 1.25 gallons per minute cuts water use by about 17 percent, he said. Dual-flush toilets also cut water usage, Hurth said. Such toilets have a low-flow setting for liquid waste and a higher flow for solid waste.

A family of four could save 10,000 gallons a year by switching, he said.

"It goes a long ways," Hurth said. "It'll help save water, and it'll pay for itself."

He suggested that people consider replacing their shower heads and toilets with products bearing a WaterSense label. For appliances, Energy Star labels indicate efficiency.

Businesses and residences also can get tax credits for switching to geothermal heating and cooling. Major Heating & A/C, which has offices in Steamboat, offers those systems.

Geothermal uses the theory of refrigeration to heat and cool air, Micah McKinnies, marketing and development spokesman, said in an interview.

"We're using the constant temperature of the earth to heat your house," he said. "We're either taking heat from the earth to heat your house or in the summer would be taking heat from your house and putting it in the earth."

The systems are efficient and offer consistent temperatures, McKinnies said.

"If you take a standard furnace, a high-efficiency furnace, it's 94 percent," he said. "For every dollar you put into heating and cooling, 94 percent is turned into heating and cooling. For geothermal, you're getting 300 to 600 percent."

For example, a 3,500-square-foot house in Denver saw an annual utility bill of $350 for heating, cooling and hot water, McKinnies said.

At the June 12 lunch, Steve Hoots, project/energy manager for Steamboat Springs, encouraged business owners to discuss green improvements with their landlords.

"It's something your landlord should take some ownership in because there is some benefit to their property," Hoots said.

Tree planting planned

The Sustainable Business Program, run by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, now has 64 members. Each goes through an evaluation and creates a plan to lessen their impact on the environment. Halliday, principal of Environmental Solutions Unlimited, guides that process.

Businesses also can contribute to Cents for Steamboat, formerly called One Percent for Steamboat. That program allows businesses' customers to contribute to conservation projects in town. Black Tie Ski Rentals and Life Essentials Wellness Spa have joined.

One of the sustainability program's first grass-roots projects is a tree planting planned for Friday at Steamboat Lake State Park. The city will donate a bus, as will Go Alpine. Central Park Management is sponsoring lunch at Glen Eden Family Restaurant & Tavern.

"We're hoping that we have good weather and a lot of folks will come," Halliday said. "We're specifically focusing on youth because it's the next generation forest that we're focusing on."

The U.S. Forest Service is donating 800 seedlings, and Smokey Bear will attend. People can take the bus or drive and park free at the marina, Halliday said.

"We'd love to have as many people as would like to come out," she said.

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