Earth Day is a great time to note how New England tradition merges with 21st century sustainability technology and practices at The Glen House, the new 68-room hotel at the base of Mt. Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The green-thinking hotel, with an extraordinary perch in the heart of the White Mountains, is striving to be close to energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral. The property has roots that go back nearly 170 years, when the original Glen House opened. That was in 1852, when tourists were already ascending the summit of 6,288 foot Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. Three more iterations of The Glen House followed until the present hotel opened in the fall of 2018.
“Each new hotel took advantage of whatever the latest in building theory and technology had to offer,” explained Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road/Great Glen Outdoor Center, which owns the hotel. “In 1885 when the second Glen House was constructed, it had electric as well as gas lights, a telegraph and an elevator. The fourth Glen House, built in 1924, was winterized with insulation and central heat to take advantage of the growing winter sports of skiing, tobogganing and snowshoeing.”
The new Glen House, the first property to stand on this site in more than half a century, carries on the innovate tradition of its predecessors with an array of 21st century sustainability practices:
- The hotel has a geothermal system that utilizes 30 wells that have been drilled 500-feet deep. These wells provide the energy to heat the hotel in winter and cool it in summer, using energy naturally stored in the ground. Using a closed loop system, a water and antifreeze mix is circulated through these wells and into the quiet heat pumps in each room and common areas, providing heating and cooling without burning fossil fuels or running conventional air conditioning compressors.
- The hotel’s walk-in refrigerators and freezer take advantage of the geothermal system to exhaust their heat into the ground.
- Building insulation is a combination of spray foam and rigid panels, which provides a very high “R” value, making the building even more efficient.
- LED lighting is standard throughout the hotel, from the smallest decorative fixtures to the parking lot lighting, which further reduces energy consumption.
- All outdoor lighting is Dark Sky Compliant, which means that all light is pointed toward the ground and not into the sky, which helps preserve the night sky.
- Elevators are highly efficient Otis Gen2 models that regenerate energy when the car is moving down, returning energy to the building to use in other places.
- A new hydro generator produces around 80% of the electric needs of the neighboring Great Glen Lodge activities center across the street. An additional generator using the same water and source will produce an additional 20 kWh of energy for The Glen House.
- Irrigating the hotel’s landscape of flowers, shrubs, trees and grass is done using a gravity feed from this same water system.
- The waterworks is also used for snowmaking and fire safety purposes.
- The hotel recycles all plastic, metal and paper.
- Bathrooms feature refillable pump bottles for body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and the hotel encourages guests to take the bar soap home with them, using a wax paper bag that is provided.
- There are no in-room coffee makers, which are energy inefficient and create waste. Instead, coffee and tea service is offered in the lobby.
- There are public water fountains designed for filling reusable water bottles.
- The outdoor fire pit uses propane, not wood, to help maintain the Class I air quality standard found in the Great Gulf Wilderness area, the valley that lies just west of the hotel.
- In the near future, The Glen House intends to install solar photovoltaic arrays to further add to their onsite energy production.