Every month, we track our natural gas usage in our facility. Rich does a meticulous job of highlighting our natural gas usage every month. Let me share some examples of the impact we have seen since taking over our little hot springs property in Ouray, Colorado. We used a total of 355 Therms (a Therm is 100 Cubic Feet) of natural gas in July 2010. In July 2007, our third month of hotel ownership, we used 1062 Therms, nearly a 70% reduction in natural gas usage during our tenure here. How did our little Southwest Colorado hotel make such a substantial difference in gas usage? We began heating all of the water used in guest rooms with our geothermal resources. We even added a guest laundry during this time period with two gas dryers and that additional usage was not factored out when computing our savings. If you take a month like January where the tempertures can hover near zero degrees even on very sunny days and where we must heat our facilities, we can see great savings as well. In January 2007, the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs consumed 2259 therms while in January 2010, our motel used 1059 therms. Other factors influence gas consumption in winter months including overall temperatures as well as occupancy but we see this reduction of 53% as a substantial reduction. Some additional steps we took that we attribute to saving this much gas include new attic insulation, measurements and gauges that monitor performance (we notice inconsistencies much faster), and more energy efficient doors. Currently, we want to find a way to reduce gas usage even more but we are currently short on ideas. In July, the only culprit for gas usage are the dryers in the laundry. We have already purchased and installed two Continental Girbau extractors that leave laundry less wet than conventional machines. We have asked our guests to participate in a towel and linen program to help with volume where possible. What other conservation methods can we implement to save more natural gas? We would love to hear from you!
Once the Box Canyon Lodge had addressed the initial obstacles of the geothermal project, the project team was able to move forward towards a greener solution.
- The second modification we had to make was installing a drain-line from the geo-tank to the river. We wanted to constantly fill the tank with new hot water so we had to dump cooler water from the tank.
- The third modification involved getting city water to and from the geo-tank back to our building. This modification involved installing about 620 feet of pipe in an existing culvert under the street between the manganese mine spring location and a man-hole on the far side of the Box Canyon Lodge property.
- The fourth modification involved digging a trench and installing plumbing from the man-hole into our building and the final modification involved the plumbing required to interface to our domestic hot water and room heating systems.
- The final modification involved the interfaces to our existing domestic hot water and heating infrastructure.
Our eco-friendly project team had done it! The Box Canyon Lodge now has a fully functioning, green, & economical geothermal heat exchanger.
We received a USDA renewable energy grant in 2009 so that we could exploit our geothermal resources even more fully. Here is a description of the project that we completed. The project involved modifications for five different areas, the first step being the most critical to the success of the project.
First, we had an existing concrete tank at the manganese mine spring location that had been abandoned many years ago.
- The tank was originally used to store hot water before it was pumped back to the Box Canyon Lodge.
- This system was abandoned because the hot water was nearly impossible to pump without significant maintenance. Pumps would quit and pipes would clog because of the corrosion caused by the geo-water.
- Without significant maintenance the system would not work. The maintenance required made this system cost-prohibitive.
- Because this system was just abandoned in place we had to clean out the tank before we could install our new copper coils and plumbing interfaces back to our building.