Local Big Business Helps Reduce Carbon Footprint

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RENO, Nev. -- Earth Day may be over, but being eco-friendly is an all year effort for our casinos in town. Many things make the Peppermill Resort Spa unique, but one that stands out is right under our feet. Its green efforts are getting national attention and was recently recognized in Forbes Magazine.

When the Peppermill expanded, its utility bills doubled. In order to save money, management took a gamble and decided to invest about $6 million dollars to dig a hole in the ground.

"It's kind of like the circulation of a car radiator, it comes out of the ground, heat things and then back into the ground," Dean Parker, director of facilities said. "Then we use that heat to heat the mechanical systems and the domestic systems."

Parker says it's the only resort in the nation that uses geothermal energy to power its central air and hot water systems.

"You take a shower in a hotel room and that's where your hot water is coming from...including our swimming pools and jacuzis," he said.

The water is pumped from underground and then through a heat exchanger. It's pumping water that's about 174 degrees to the rest of the hotel, which is replacing four huge natural gas boilers that have been idle for three years.

It saved them 12 tons of carbon monoxide and at least $2 million dollars a year on heating costs.

"It doesn't take too long for it to get your return on your cost."

Geothermal energy isn't the only way the resort is reducing its carbon footprint, the Peppermill works with Clean the World, a non-profit organization that repurposes used soaps, shampoos and conditioners left in hotel rooms, to third world children.

"It's going to a family in need instead of going to a landfill somewhere," Julia Jeffers, Peppermill public relations manager said.

Going green is helping the Peppermill save the green and the community around it.

The next step is to drill a deeper vent that could power an electric plant and eliminate the power grid entirely.

Like the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, the Peppermill also composts its leftover food and uses LED lighting.