Aspen’s history is part of what makes this ski town so special. From the Wheeler Opera House to Smuggler Mine, the past is all around us. But things are changing at a rapid pace, and Aspen is at risk of losing its small ski town charm (think Little Annie’s and Boogies Diner). CORE has an awesome program in place to preserve history while providing energy efficiency incentives to Aspen’s historic small lodges.
SLEEP (Small Lodge Energy Efficiency Program) is a part of the Small Lodge Preservation Program, established in 2015, which recognizes the cultural and economic value provided to Aspen by small lodges. Funded by the City of Aspen and run by CORE, SLEEP incentivizes improvements that contribute to the longevity of those lodges by providing advising and rebates for energy efficiency improvements. This program includes 13 small lodges throughout Aspen. They are small, affordable and historic.
After speaking with Carol Blomquist, the owner of the Chalet Lisl for the past 40 years, it is evident how important this hotel is to her and the community. She and her husband moved to Aspen in the 70’s, and decided to buy the Chalet to earn an income that allowed them to stay in Aspen. This Chalet looks more like a cozy home than a hotel, with 10 units but only 6 that get rented out. The lodge has been a place for many return guests who’ve gotten to know Carol and her family. Currently, professors from the physics center are staying here, and in the fall, the Ruggerfest players will come as they do every year, always reminding Carol “don’t sell!” But Carol says selling has seemed tempting, with “realtors and developers knocking on her door.” Taxes in Aspen have gotten so high plus she had to close down for 8 months over Covid, so it has been hard to maintain the property. It is troublesome to think about someone buying this property and demolishing it, but Carol is hopeful that one of her kids will take over to run the Chalet someday.
CORE has helped Carol with a few small projects that have made a big impact, and she is excited to work with CORE on future projects. She was weary at first, thinking she would have to pay CORE back for the funds they provide, but was so surprised to learn these energy efficiency services are free. CORE worked on her roof, putting in heat tape to melt the snow and prevent her pipes from freezing. She received over $4,000 on these projects, and is looking forward to doing more to her space. She wants to upgrade lighting and potentially add solar panels. Mike Bouchet, CORE’s commercial program manager, received rave reviews from Carol, saying “he is so sincere about what he does, you can tell he really cares.”
The City provides $50,000 a year for CORE to distribute to these hotels for energy upgrades such as air sealing & insulation, water heating, lighting, and renewable energy. The Snow Queen Lodge, which recently changed ownership, received over $30,000 for various projects including electric heat pumps to heat and cool the hotel. These projects add up and save the owner money on their utility bills while cutting down on carbon emissions, creating a comfortable climate for the guests.