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Is The Glen House the Greenest Getaway in the White Mountains?

How the Recently Opened Hotel is Modernizing a Century-Old Legacy of Sustainability

Since opening last fall, The Glen House has welcomed guests looking to take in the
winter splendor of Mt. Washington. Image: Mt. Washington Auto Road.

By Chris Gillespie

If you’re looking for a year-round destination to enjoy the natural beauty of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range that is both stunning in its scenery and cutting-edge in its energy conservation, The Glen House is the hotel for you.

Although various iterations of The Glen House have come and gone in Pinkham Notch over the years dating back to 1852, the recently completed hotel exemplifies sustainability and next- generation energy efficiency so much that it has received recognition from Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Development of the modern incarnation of The Glen House started a decade ago but was cut short by the Great Recession. When the team at Mt. Washington Auto Road decided to resume development of The Glen House in recent years, they were afforded the chance to “start from scratch” and “really head in the direction of sustainability,” under the guidance of Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails general manager, Howie Wemyss.

“I pushed pretty hard for it to be sustainable,” said Wemyss, who started working as the general manager of Mt. Washington Auto Road over thirty years ago. “Sustainability is a personal philosophy of mine, so it has been rewarding to have been able to steer the company in this direction over the years.”

Since opening on September 12, 2018, The Glen House has become the latest achievement in sustainability for the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The company has a long history of embracing conservation, from utilizing hydropower from a nearby water source in increasing efficiency since the late 1800s, to becoming one of the first businesses in New Hampshire to install electric vehicle charging stations in 2013.

“We are fortunate to be stewards of a piece of property here that is on the edge of the wilderness, and I feel that it is incumbent on us to take as good care of the property as we can,” said Wemyss. “With modern technology, it’s much easier to make the business case to go in this direction and, coupled with being better for the environment, it’s a pretty easy sell, in my opinion.”

The Glen House has many pieces of hardware, including the geothermal circulation pumps seen here, that save money and energy. Image: Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Mt. Washington Auto Road’s commitment to sustainability is truly manifested at The Glen House: the entire facility, from the guest rooms to the parking lot, is outfitted with exclusively LED lighting and is heated and cooled using geothermal energy. The Glen House even features state of the art elevators whose motors double as generators that yield enough energy to drastically reduce the elevators’ operating costs. The construction management of this eco-friendly hotel was done by Martini Northern of Portsmouth, NH.

All of these sustainability measures, while impressive, are just the beginning for The Glen House. In the near future, Wemyss and his team plan to look into installing solar panels on the property and expand their hydropower system to better utilize the currently underutilized upper two-thirds of their waterway. The goal, Wemyss says, is to use solar power to cover whatever electric demand is not covered by hydropower.

“Within two years from now, once we have real data on the electric demand of the hotel, we’ll design and install a solar array to take care of the rest of the hotel’s electricity,” said Wemyss.

Wemyss encourages business owners to take advantage of whichever renewable energy options are available to them.

“We are fortunate here to have running water coming down the hill so utilizing that resource was the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ for us, so to speak,” said Wemyss. “Almost everyone, though, is in a situation where the sun is shining on them, so every business owner with an electric burden should be looking at solar these days.”

Wemyss hopes that visitors to The Glen House will become educated about the importance and accessibility of sustainability and also be inspired to implement more sustainable solutions in their day-to-day lives.

“We aggressively recycle here, so it amazes us when we meet guests who are not used to recycling at all,” said Wemyss. “Ideally, once they learn how to recycle while staying with us, they’ll start recycling more when they return home.”

Regardless of which room guests stay in, they will find an informational brochure outlining all of The Glen House’s sustainability practices and renewable energy technology, as well as a small pouch for them to take their room’s bars of soap home with them. They won’t find, however, any plastic bottles, as The Glen House only uses refillable containers for their liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner. Additionally, the hotel has a water bottle filling station and sells only Boxed Water, avoiding single-use plastic water bottles.

“Since we are in a pristine location, I think our sustainability resonates more with guests, because we’re showing them that we’re trying to take care of our home and the environment around us,” said Wemyss. “We need to show people that there are businesses out there that are doing this and that they themselves can do it at their own homes as well.”

For more information on The Glen House and to book a stay, visit www.theglenhouse.com.

Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at chris@greenenergytimes.org.

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