Environmental Initiatives of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center and the Glen House hotel
As part of the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s commitment to sustainability, energy efficiency and environmentally conscious practices, numerous programs are in place today.
HYDROELECTRIC POWER & ELECTRICITY USAGE
The Mt. Washington Auto Road has had a micro hydroelectric facility on site for almost a century. In 2012 we modernized the existing facility with the replacement of both the Pelton wheel turbine as well as the generator. This 10 KW design generator is currently producing around 10.5 KW which currently covers about 80% of our electric needs in the main lodge annually.
Numerous changes were made within the base lodge to move towards higher efficiency lighting as well as the use of automatic timers. Parking lots lights are LEDs that use daylight sensors and timers to conserve energy. And the parking lot lights are “full cutoff” to insure the light does not shine into the sky thereby preserving the night sky in Pinkham Notch.
The Auto Road’s Red Barn Museum uses lighting which has been upgraded to all LED floodlights dramatically reducing the electric load within.
In 2017 the entire lodge was upgraded to LED lighting to further reduce energy consumption.
BASE LODGE HEATING SYSTEM
In November 2015, a new wood pellet burning boiler system was installed that heats our base lodge (20,000 sf) and provides for hot water needs in the 3-story building, including the Glen View Café.
Two OkoFEN boilers, as well as a pellet storage unit, were neatly packaged within an 8′ x 40′ energy box adjacent to the lodge. The result was the displacement of 6,000 gallons of fuel oil previously consumed annually with approximately 50 tons of wood pellets that are manufactured locally.
Read here about greenhouse gas emissions in modern wood heat vs oil heat.
High efficiency Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) pumps for heating and hot water were also added to the base lodge system.
AUTO ROAD VEHICLES
Since 2007, the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s primary vehicle for staff usage has been a Smart Car. In 2013, a Smart Electric Drive was purchased for even more efficiency and to demonstrate that the technology of battery electric cars works and is available today.
Also in 2013, an electric vehicle charging station was installed on property to make it easier for electric vehicles to visit us and to help spread the network of charging stations in Northern NH. As of 2017, there are now four electric vehicle charging stations on property as well as two more at the Glen House hotel.
In the search for cleaner ways to transport people up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, 10 of our modern day “stages” that we use on guided tours have been converted to propane/gasoline. This allows cleaner emissions at a lower fuel cost and will continue to be expanded in the years to come as we replace the vans.
THE GLEN HOUSE HOTEL
The history of the Glen House hotels on the property here dates back to the mid-1850s. Today’s Glen House is by far the most advanced in technology, construction and certainly sustainability. Designed to continue the tradition of stewardship that the family has displayed during their more than 110 years of ownership of the property including the Mt. Washington Auto Road, there are many features in this Glen House that fit with the pristine environment of the location. The geothermal system consists of thirty 500-foot deep wells that use the energy naturally stored in the ground using a closed loop system. This provides heating and cooling throughout the hotel without the use of fossil fuels. The spray foam and rigid panels used for insulation contribute to the building’s efficiency with a high rated resistance to heat flow. Energy consumption is reduced with the use of LED lighting throughout the hotel – from the smallest of decorative fixtures to the parking lot lighting. All of our outdoor lighting is “Dark Sky Compliant” – meaning all of the lights are directed toward the ground, and not into the sky, which preserves the night sky. Our highly efficient elevators are equipped with ReGen drive, a regenerative system, which feeds generated energy back into the building’s grid where it is used for other electrical devices such as lighting. A new hydro generator produces around 80% of the electric needs of the lodge across the street. Another additional generator using the same water and source will produce an additional 20 kWh of energy for the new Glen House. The hotel landscape irrigation is gravity fed from this same water system.
The Auto Road and Great Glen Trails have an active and aggressive recycling program minimizing the recyclables that end up in landfill. This includes glass, aluminum and “tin” cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, batteries and all white paper. Staff is encouraged to use “real” coffee and tea cups rather than paper and real silverware rather than disposable. Staff is also encouraged to use their own refillable water bottles instead of single use plastic water bottles. Our cafe has now switched to selling boxed water instead of single serve plastic bottles and we now use compostable cutlery instead of plastic – both of which lessen the amount of recycling needed.
PAPER CONSUMPTION AND HANDLING
In 2014, the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails began an aggressive campaign to not only reduce its use of paper but to manage it more efficiently in order to minimize waste and recycle as much product as possible. The production of print collateral was reduced by up to to 38% and printing sources were moved to “FSC Certified paper stock”.
FSC signifies an independent, non-profit organization that helps to protect forests for future generations. Use of FSC-certified paper ensures the printed product has flowed through the FSC Chain of Custody from the FSC-certified forest, to a paper manufacturer, merchant, and finally to a printer that has FSC Chain-of-Custody certification.
AUTO ROAD EVENTS
For 20+ years, Tin Mountain Conservation Center has been the main beneficiary of the annual Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Their careful and skillful stewardship of this event has resulted in worldwide recognition of the Hillclimb. This event has allowed them to raise over one million dollars from the Hillclimb that is used directly for their environmental education programs in local schools as well as programs for the general public.
GREAT GLEN TRAILS
Great Glen’s Nordic trail system is groomed with highly efficient 4-stroke snowmobiles during the early season and during low snow periods. During the main season we groom with a highly-advanced diesel Kassbohrer PistenBully 400 that uses cleaner Tier 4 combustion technology.