The 2021 Sustainable Business Awards are presented to Actively Green Certified Businesses
Climate Impact Award: Eagle River Water & Sanitation District
The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District (ERWSD) reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 249 metric tons, more than any other Actively Green Certified business in 2021. To put that in perspective, reducing that much greenhouse gas is equivalent to 66 employees (living in Eagle and working in Vail) working from home twice a week or replacing nearly 1,000 light bulbs with LEDs. ERWSD has made an impact that will help us reach our local climate action goals! So how did they manage to do this?
The most significant action the Sanitation District took was to prioritize “lead[ing] Eagle County in climate action and sustainability.” This displayed commitment and buy-in, from leadership and staff alike, to mitigate climate change. In 2021, the District developed a new Sustainability Fund that will fund employee housing projects like appliance electrification, EV charging stations, rooftop solar, and home energy assessments.
In 2021, the District continued to offset 100% of their electricity with wind power through Holy Cross Energy’s (HCE) PuRE Program, made progress on a 7MW solar array to help power one of their facilities and continued solar production from local employee housing.
Another way the water District reduced emissions in 2021 was through energy optimization. Through HCEs Peak Time Payback (PTP) program and the use of energy monitoring devices, the District saved more than $25,000. This wouldn’t have been possible without in-depth energy use monitoring provided by the benchmarking service recommended by the Sustainable Business Program. In turn, the benchmarking service highlighted opportunities for capitalizing on what the PTP Program was offering. This isn’t the only energy benchmarking service the District utilized. ERWSD also plugged into the Climate Action Collaborative’s benchmarking service, B3, to help inform local priority actions and realize even more benefits.
On the waste reduction and diversion front, the District had composting services available for every employee and at every facility. Waste diverted through recycling opportunities was increased in 2021. This included the diversion of over 200 pounds of nitrile gloves, 188 cubic feet of soft plastics, an assortment of electronics, a rainbow of paints, a car-full of Styrofoam blocks, an assemblage of batteries, a closet-full of textiles and more.
ERWSD established a Transportation Taskforce that met quarterly throughout 2021, working to reduce emissions from fleet vehicles, employee travel and commuting. The Traskforce helped the District to prioritize electric vehicle travel and support installation of future public charging stations. The Taskforce is currently developing a flexible work arrangement policy to be rolled out in 2022.
Collaboration has been an important piece to the climate puzzle for ERWSD over the past few years and has allowed for increased engagement from a variety of stakeholder groups. It is, therefore, a piece of the puzzle that is vital to sustainable business, yet often gets overlooked. For the ERWSD, collaborative efforts helped optimize energy use, reduce operating costs, inform sustainability planning, improve employee well-being, and ultimately earn the 2021 Climate Impact Award from the Sustainable Business Program at Walking Mountains Science Center!
Sustainable Destination Dedication Award: Vail Spa Condominiums
In 2021, Vail Spa Condominiums showed their dedication to the Town of Vail’s Sustainable Destination Certification by forging partnerships, planning for long-term sustainability, and actively participating in local climate initiatives that contributed to making Vail a sustainable destination.
Vail Spa Condos hit the ground running in early 2021 and partnered with the Eagle County Airport on a new electric vehicle rewards program. Through the program, travelers who rented an electric vehicle at the Airport received perks from numerous Eagle County businesses. To encourage travelers to rent an EV, Vail Spa Condos applied for, and was awarded, a Charge Ahead Colorado Grant to install two electric vehicle charging stations in their parking garage. Vail Spa also hosted an LED light bulb swap, in partnership with the Climate Action Collaborative; participated in the Town of Vail Business Recycling Challenge; and maintained their Gold Leader status with the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program.
Leaps & Bounds Award: Vail Valley Partnership
Last year, the Vail Valley Partnership (VVP) published the Visit Vail Valley Official Visitors Guide digitally for the first time. By exclusively publishing the Guide digitally, the VVP substantially reduced their paper consumption. Going digital also allowed the Guide to include more dynamic content (think of all the rabbit holes you could go down, clicking from link to link) and the ability to continuously improve the guide, even after publishing.
We’re especially excited about the Know Before You Go trip planning directory on responsible tourism, safety and sustainability, an addition to this year's Guide. There, you’ll find information about Leave No Trace principles, trail etiquette, navigation tips for recycling, and more.
As the VVP shifts towards promoting responsible tourism, it’s fitting that they joined the Colorado Tourism Office's Care for Colorado Coalition and work with the Eagle Valley Outdoor Stewardship Coalition to promote Leave No Trace and other sustainable tourism initiatives. By shifting their messaging towards sustainable tourism, the VVP has boosted responsible tourism messaging across the Eagle Valley.
Most Sustainable Employee Award: Cindy Krieg - Town of Minturn
Despite the many hats she wears for the Town of Minturn, Cindy Krieg was nominated by her peers and has won the 2021 Most Sustainable Employee Award. In her role as Economic Development and Events Manager for the Town, Cindy has maintained partnerships, fortified sustainability education for community members and staff, developed a sustainability communication plan, and managed waste diversion and electrification programming. Through her work, it became clear that Cindy’s efforts to improve the Town of Minturn’s sustainability and resiliency are impressive!
Other Eagle Valley employees nominated by their peers for the Most Sustainable Employee Award include: Kira Koppel from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District; Heather McInerny with Slifer Smith and Frampton; and Iza Ruffino at Sipes Architects.
Best Green Team Award: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Boasting the only Green Team in the County that includes every full-time employee, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens’ staff are a sustainability savvy bunch. The Garden’s sustainability policies, outlined in their Sustainability Handbook, include their pledges and commitments, standard operating procedures, tracking methodologies, and long-term sustainability strategies. The Handbook serves as a guide for the Green Team, allowing them to spend Green Team meetings discussing ideas for continuous improvement rather than sustainability policy upkeep. In 2021, the Green Team produced several sustainability “wins,” including: reducing plastic packaging, communicating sustainability goals to the public, reducing employee commuting miles, and continuing similar sustainability efforts at home. Each staff member at the Gardens spends part of their time contributing to organizational sustainability. Combined with open dialogue at Green Team meetings, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens staff make up the Best Green Team in the County!
Top 10 Favorite Sustainable Business Awards
- Bonfire Family - With more than double the votes of any other nominated business, the “Bonfam,” formerly of Bonfire Brewing, went above and beyond to make the brewery a sustainability leader and local landmark that will be remembered for many years to come. Learn more about Bonfire Brewing founder, Andy Jessen, and his lasting legacy.
- Vail Valley Partnership
- Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
- Walking Mountains Science Center
- Active Energies Solar, LLC
- Eagle River Water & Sanitation District
- Alpine Bank
- The Bookworm of Edwards
- Antlers Lodge at Vail
- Fjallraven in Vail