You don’t need a time machine to experience the rich history of the town formerly known as Ute City. Tourists and locals alike can get a taste of the good ol’ days by staying in one of Aspen’s historic small lodges. The city has recognized the 13 boutique hotels for their historical, economic, and cultural importance. But old buildings aren’t exactly known for their efficiency and, in a city with ambitious climate action goals, that matters — a lot. To preserve history, and the environment, the City of Aspen partnered with CORE in 2015 to create the Small Lodge Energy Efficiency Program (SLEEP).

SLEEP gives financial support for energy upgrades and tailored energy advising from CORE’s Commercial Programs Manager, Mike Bouchet, for these unique properties. Each lodge can get up $20,000 per year for up to five years. The way Bouchet sees it, “the program maintains quaint pieces of Aspen’s history and helps lodges provide modern comforts with a lower carbon footprint.” 

To see the power of SLEEP in action, look no further than the oldest lodge in town, the Snow Queen. The Victorian-style mansion was built in 1886 and has a history as fascinating as it’s architecture. The shed next door once housed the largest silver nugget ever mined long before it became a rallying post for the original ski bums of the 70s. The current owner, David Ledingham, recently took over the family business initially purchased by his mom in 1961. Ledingham said of days gone by: “We rented rooms with bunks for $12 a night, and when we sold out, we’d rent you a spot on the couch for $5.”

“It’s not easy running a small b&b,” according to Ledingham. “Electric bills get up to $1,500 in the winter, plus the guests these days want AC.” Ledingham worked with CORE’s Bouchet to find a solution that could handle both heating and cooling, an electric heat pump that delivers three times the efficiency. This is on top of three years of SLEEP Program collaboration that included all-LED lighting, enhanced insulation, and a high-efficiency boiler. After a quick crunch of the numbers, the Snow Queen is on target to recoup their part of the investment within three years. 

The Snow Queen proves that we can preserve history without compromising climate action goals. It has stood on Cooper Ave. for nearly 120 years, and like many of the finer things in life, it keeps getting better with age.

CORE has smart energy solutions and funding available for any commercial property, big or small. To learn how your property can cut carbon and operational costs, reach out to Mike Bouchet at mike@aspencore.org or go to aspencore.org/take-action.