Basin Harbor Greens, Part Two: Sustainable Technology

Posted on September 14, 2012

With the advancement of science and industry, modern technology has played a big role in Basin Harbor Club’s environmental action in the past few decades.

In 2010 Basin Harbor Club took on an Energy Challenge set by Efficiency Vermont—the company that regulates all energy efficiency in the state—which challenged businesses to reduce their overall energy use by 10% over the course of two years. BHC managed to meet the challenge in six months! The conversion to LED lighting beginning in 2010 has been one of the largest strides in saving energy (and lowering the electric bill, as a result!). The light bulbs, which use about 8 watts in comparison to a standard 60-watt light bulb, have reduced electricity use by 15%. The expense of converting to these special light bulbs was made possible by Efficiency Vermont, which offered the bulbs at a reduced rate to businesses willing to make the switch.

Being a large resort with multiple departments connected by vast computer systems, you can imagine how much energy is used just in the technological realm. As an effort to harness the energy put out by these humming systems themselves, BHC has employed two different measures. “Virtualized servers” have been incorporated, condensing the need for multiple servers doing different things to one large server doing them all, which reduces the need to have as many machines buzzing all the time.

Even with minimal devices running, a lot of heat is still put out. We all know that the back of a computer hard drive or server can get nice and toasty—so imagine a resort-sized version! Now imagine being able to harness that energy as a heat source during the frigid winter months. At Basin Harbor Club, a unique system called a “data furnace” is put into play, where the energy emitted by the data center is captured by exhaust fans and sent directly into the heating ducts to contribute to the heating system, thereby reducing the amount of extra energy produced to keep those dedicated winter employees warm! Meanwhile, the heat-producing data centers must be cooled in order to function properly, and in some places air conditioning is used to do the cooling, even in winter. At Basin Harbor, however, the outside air during those cooler months is used to keep the systems at optimal temperatures.

Speaking of optimal temperatures, how about that swimming pool? New this year is the solar panel on the pool house, which has reduced the energy required to heat the pool otherwise by 50%. Solar panels, in fact, had been attempted at BHC back in the ‘70s when they weren’t quite so fine-tuned, and were so hard to regulate that the effort was abandoned. With newer technology making these panels much more efficient, Basin Harbor is enjoying a successful go at solar energy this time around.

Basin Harbor’s wastewater treatment plan is another aspect of our green nature that employs a technological design. Because the club owns and operates its water source independently, BHC must also deal with the entire water cycle, from clean to dirty and back again. Under specifications set by the State of Vermont, Basin Harbor maintains its own wastewater treatment facility, located on the east side of the airstrip. The facility functions as a series of five connected lagoons, with the first two under decreasingly heavy aeration. The aeration effectively promotes the ability of bacteria already present in the wastewater to consume the “food”, or solids, and return the water to a clean state (with the help of natural processes of evaporation and settling that take place in the final series of lagoons). The lagoons, in turn, provide a wetlands environment that attracts all kinds of birds and other native wildlife.

Through all of these efforts, and a future of embracing new green technologies, Basin Harbor hopes to protect the beauty of our little niche on the shore of Lake Champlain for many more years to come. The pristine environment is what has been attracting people to BHC for generations, promising a lush escape from the more metropolitan lifestyles, and if we can’t provide a green space that promotes the natural environment, then we aren’t doing our job.

Come and see for yourself!