Reno, Nevada’s Peppermill Resort Spa Casino has invested some $600 million in upgrades, expansions and improvements over the past decade. In the face of the ongoing drought, none of its financial bets have paid off as handsomely as its $9.7 million geothermal energy system, completed in 2010.
Drilling down 4,400 feet to tap the earth’s geothermal aquifer, engineers hit pay dirt, and enough natural energy to handle 100 percent of the resort’s hot-water needs, from showers in 1,632 guest rooms to mechanical systems to swimming pools and spas throughout the 2.1 million-squarefoot building. The savings: a cool $2.2 million annually over conventional natural gas, according to Katie Silva, the resort’s manager of corporate communications.
The closed-loop system works by heating steam from the bowels of the earth with volcanic rock. That, in turn, heats copper tubes circulating with water from Reno’s municipal supply. The city water is pumped into the building while geothermal water goes back into the aquifer to be reheated and recirculated by Mother Nature.
The Peppermill claims to be the only resort in the country heated by geothermal energy produced on the immediate property, and its green initiatives don’t stop there. Many measures have been implemented to mitigate effects of the ongoing drought, Silva notes, including replacement of 40,000 square feet of grass with artificial turf, saving approximately 5.2 million gallons of water per season while eliminating chemicals and pesticides.