NCET explores Northern Nevada’s innovative technologies.
By Mikalee Byerman
Leadership at Reno’s Peppermill has made the call: Mother Nature is always the odds-on favorite at the resort-casino.
The property has assumed a pioneering role in environmental stewardship initiatives, as it is the only hotel in the nation to be heated completely by an on-site geothermal well.
And for locals or tourists lucky enough to dip their toes in one of the Peppermill’s sparkling pools, they may notice a tangible difference: Comfortably warm water, which is completely compliments of volcanic energy almost three-quarters of a mile below the surface.
In fact, all water at the property, including pools, spas and domestic water for showers and mechanical systems, generates all of its heating energy from the geothermal operation: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Considering the resort’s size — “The Peppermill expanded from 1.1 million square feet to 2.1 million square feet between 2006 and 2010,” notes Facilities Director Dean Parker — the sheer scope of the eco-friendly approach is massive.
The payoff: All told, Peppermill’s green initiatives are reported to have saved the property millions in operating costs and has reduced its CO-2 emissions by 12,000 metric tons per year.
But while the gamble has resulted in far more reward than risk, the initial bet was a doozy: The geothermal well alone initially cost $9.7 million and involved 4,400 feet of drilling.
And this is only one of the massive resort’s many projects.
“From a facility perspective, we have implemented numerous innovative sustainability programs,” Parker said. “These of course include the mechanical and domestic geothermal heat energy, but also Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV’s), HVAC systems that allow brining in year round fresh outside air, LED parking lot lighting, artificial turf replacing real grass, laundry gray water recycling system, and the multiple recycling programs being implemented throughout the property.”
Of course, the management tracks costs and program outcomes vigilantly. Specific to the comprehensive water conservation programs, the property saves approximately 5.2 million gallons of water per season.
And LED parking lot lights, combined with interior LED and fluorescent retrofit lighting recently installed throughout the resort, save approximately $130,000 a year in electrical energy cost, resulting in an average of $ 98,000 in rebates from NV Energy each year.
Parker credits leadership with guiding the way down the obviously LED-lit path toward sustainability.
“We have innovative owners who have the foresight to see the benefit of supporting new technical ideas and encouraging sustainable energy programs,” Parker said.
And as a company philosophy, sharing ideas with future leaders is part of its DNA.
“We are a frontier leader for our industry,” he said. “So we participate in an outreach training program with TMCC and UNR students outlining Peppermill’s sustainability/renewal energy programs.”
Learn more about Peppermill’s pioneering green initiatives at NCET’s Tech Wednesday, June 11. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit producing events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology.
Mikalee Byerman is Director of Audience Engagement for the Estipona Group (www.estiponagroup.com) and is NCET’s VP of Communications. This column first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal – RGJ.com