West Slope companies earn gold by going green

David Miller
David Miller
Dave Krogman
Dave Krogman

Alpine Bank has earned additional recognition for its efforts to promote a cleaner environment.

Other companies with operations in the Grand Valley also were among those honored in a statewide program.

Alpine Bank received the 24-Karat Gold Award. West Star Aviation and Western Metals Recycling maintained their Gold Leader designations. Reynolds Polymer Technology and Hammerhead Paint  Services received Bronze Achiever designations.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment bestows the award and designations through its Environmental Leadership Program. The program recognizes businesses, educational institutions, government agencies and nonprofit organizations for going beyond state and federal regulations in their commitment to continued environmental improvements.

The department created the 24-Karat Gold Award to recognize Gold Leader designees that have created and implemented a program or initiative that makes measurable contributions to the environment, economy and society. Gold Leader designees select the 24-Karat Gold Award winner.

Alpine Bank, which first earned Gold Leader designation in 2008, was honored for an initiative that not only supports solar energy production, but also helps low-income families.

Headquartered in Glenwood Springs, Alpine Bank operates 38 locations across Colorado, most of them on the Western Slope.

Alpine Bank purchased solar panels in a community solar garden in Breckenridge, then donated ownership of the panels to the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in Summit County that supports families in need. The donation allows the center to assign solar energy credits to families that can benefit from lower monthly electric bills. The donation provides about 20 families with a continuous source of solar credits.

“We applied for the award because we wanted to inspire people, and we wanted this project to have a trickle-down effect when people read about it,” said David Miller, a senior vice president who leads the so-called green team at Alpine Bank.

“Our project had never been done before and didn’t fit any format. There was no template to use. We had to invent it all on the fly. But we wanted to show that if you have the inspiration, you could do it,” Miller added.

The initiative is the latest effort in what started in 2003 as a grassroots effort by Alpine Bank employees and subsequently evolved into a management system designed to identify and reduce the environmental effects of bank operations.

Since 2006, Alpine Bank has earned and maintained ISO 14001 certification for meeting international standards for environmental management. Alpine Bank not only has reduced electricity consumption, but also invested in projects that produce solar-powered electricity. In addition, the bank contributes to nonprofit environmental groups through its loyalty debit card initiative.

West Star Aviation, an aircraft maintenance and repair company with operations in Grand Junction, was a Bronze Achiever designee in 2010, won Silver Partner designations in 2011 through 2013 and has won Gold Leader designations since then.

“We take pride in our ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint at West Star Aviation,” said Dave Krogman, general manager of the company’s operations in Grand Junction. “Continual emphasis on growing a green company helps us to keep our employees safe as well as our environment.”

Since 2010, West Star Aviation has recycled 4,000 pounds of electronic waste; 9,925 light bulbs, 31,550 pounds of aircraft batteries and a total of 39,185 pounds of aircraft and automotive tires as well as 355 gallons of antifreeze; 12,262 gallons of cold solvent; 18,950 gallons of used oil and 31,831 gallons of lacquer thinner. The company also has recovered nearly 38 pounds of silver from its X-ray processes.

In addition, West Star Aviation has reduced energy use by 402,184 kilowatt hours, enough to supply 37 homes with electricity for a year. The company has reduced volatile organic compound pollutants by 1,862 pounds and eliminated the use of methylene chloride in its aircraft paint stripping operations.

Along with its environmental awards, West Star Aviation has received recognition for the past three years as the top maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the annual results of surveys conducted for Professional Pilot magazine.

Western Metals Recycling, a regional scrap metal recycler with operations in Grand Junction, retained its Gold Leader designation.

Reynolds Polymer Technology earned a Bronze Achiever designation. The Grand Junction company manufactures acrylic panels used in aquariums, zoos, swimming pools and architectural features. In 2015, Reynolds Polymer recycled 75,000 pounds of acrylic and reclaimed and reused 480,000 gallons of water.

Hammerhead Paint Services, an industrial painting and sandblasting company based in Grand Junction, also earned a Bronze Achiever designation.