Doubletree and Strater go green

Durango’s lodging community is lightening its carbon footprint. Two of Durango’s biggest hotels have taken ambitious steps to green their rooms.

The Doubletree Hotel recently earned a Green Seal® GS-33 Silver Lodging Sustainability certification. The 159-room hotel is the largest in the state to be awarded the designation. The rigorous set of criteria encourages hotels to adopt some of the most comprehensive and environmentally sustainable standards in the industry.

“Our entire team clearly understands the implications of how everything we do throughout our hotel can ultimately have a measurable impact on the world in which we live,” said Peter Marshall, hotel general manager. “Several months ago, our hotel team began the journey to make a conscious and measurable effort in becoming an eco-business that we hoped could be a model of conservation in our city, in our state and in our industry.”

Green Seal, an independent nonprofit, certifies hotels based on a stringent list of environmentally protective policies. This list includes specific requirements such as waste minimization; refuse and recycling; water and energy efficiency; and conservation management.

As part of the certification process, each of the Doubletree’s departments underwent an extensive operations audit. The hotel also instituted a “Green Team” of employees who spearhead sustainable practices and keep fellow employees informed of the measures. So far, the Doubletree has diverted 61 percent of its overall waste stream from landfills, composted an average of 7,600 pounds of food waste per year, reduced water use by 37 percent and reduced electricity use by 18 percent.

Across town, Durango’s signature lodging property – The Strater Hotel – is taking similar steps. The historic property was recently named an Energy Star hotel.

“We believe that with the help of Energy Star, our commercial building will continue to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency, which also leads to an increase in the financial value of the property,” said Michelle Thom, general manager for the New Strater Corporation.  

Hotels that have earned Energy Star status perform in the top 25 percent of hotels nationwide, use at least 35 percent less energy and emit at least 35 percent less greenhouse gas than their peers. The Strater is the only member of the Historic Hotels of America to earn the prestigious rating.

“Three years ago, we set a goal for the hotel to decrease the size of our carbon footprint and set a new standard for energy efficiency amongst historic hotels,” said Thom. “As a cornerstone of the Durango historic district, we wanted to meet the needs of our community and of those visitors attracted to the way of life here in Durango.”

Upgrades included changing light bulbs to low-wattage compact fluorescent bulbs, utilizing a large hot water storage tank to preheat water, and changing out windows for ones with an increased R value. Another first includes the use of heated windows in the Strater’s restaurant, The Mahogany Grille.  

Black Hawk bike ban faces challenge

The fight to return pedal power to Black Hawk, the Front Range town that recently branded bicycles as illegal, is under way.

Citing safety concerns, Black Hawk made cycling through town limits illegal earlier this year and promptly started issueing tickets to riders. City Manager Mike Copp explained that there

simply was not space on Black Hawk streets for both bikes and cars. Gambling is legal in Black Hawk, and town leaders also made the move in part to accommodate that tourist market.

Cyclists immediately cried foul. The closure cuts off the only link between the Peak to Peak Highway and the Central City Parkway, a popular Front Range bike tour. In addition, Bicycle Colorado noted that the highway in question is a public road, and Black Hawk has no jurisdiction over the thoroughfare.

The fight is now going to the next level. On Aug. 18, three cyclists ticketed for riding in Black Hawk appeared in court and pled not guilty based on an invalid ordinance. At the hearing, the defense attorneys moved to dismiss the charges and submitted a legal brief arguing that the bike ban violates state law and is unconstitutional.  

Black Hawk maintains that cyclists are still welcome in the city, but only as long as they dismount and walk approximately ¼ mile through town before getting back in the saddle.

Oral arguments on the case are set for Oct. 20.

International exhibit taps local artist

Locally produced art has stepped onto the international stage. “Presence,” an art quilt by Durango’s Alison Goss, won entry into the juried online exhibition, “The Healing Power of Art, Positive Art that Uplifts the Spirit.” The show was created by Manhattan Arts International to promote art and its vital importance to healing individuals and the planet.  

Goss uses paint, collage and quilting to create images that explore the place where mysticism meets science. She has been making award winning art quilts for 30 years and her 2000 work, “Ancient Directions,” was honored as one of the best 100 American quilts of the 20th century.

“Presence” was on display at the Durango Cancer Center throughout 2008 and was the image selected for the poster to promote the Women’s Health Coalition Pink Ribbon Affair fundraiser that year. The quilt will also be on display in her studio during the Durango Open Studios event set for Sept. 18 & 19.

 “I love that my thinking mind drops away as I create, and I feel an expansion of my awareness, a larger consciousness flowing through me and into my art,” Goss said in her artist’s statement for the Manhattan Arts International exhibit.

The exhibition can be viewed through Sept. 19 and can be found online at

– Will Sands