Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg has commenced commercial operations of the largest resort-based solar farm in the Northeastern United States. Developed in partnership with New Jersey based Marina Energy, the 25-acre solar field has over 19,000 solar panels and has the annual capacity to generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity, which is more power than is consumed annually by the Resort’s two hotels.
Development of this solar farm aligns with other efforts taken by the Resort in pursuit of ongoing environmental stewardship, such as its recent partnership with Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and the New Jersey Audubon Society to create new habitat for bees, butterflies and birds on one of its 6 golf course properties. Crystal Springs Resort is also a member of the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council, which emphasizes voluntary environmental stewardship, sustainability, conservation partnerships and public education.
“We recognize that our guests visit us, not only for our wide array of amenities, but also for enjoyment of the Resort’s beautiful natural surroundings, so it is only fitting that we should take steps to minimize our impact on the environment to help preserve it for generations to come,” says Resort Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Mulvihill. “While we are taking many other steps in the area of sustainability such as the use of LED lighting, paper straws, locally sourced menu ingredients, and biodegradable organic laundry detergent, we really like to be able to use superlatives when we describe the Resort, so I am very pleased to be able to say that New York City’s closest resort is now also the Northeast’s largest solar powered resort.”
On an annual basis, the solar farm provides clean, renewable energy that more than offsets electricity consumption at the Resort’s 280 room Grand Cascades Lodge and 175 room Minerals Hotel combined. The project has qualified for net metering under New Jersey’s solar program which means the Resort always maintains a stable source of electricity supply by drawing from the grid at night and other low solar generation periods and actually providing excess energy to the grid after all Resort consumption has been satisfied during the day.
While the solar field technically already came online in September, the Resort will be holding a ceremony at Grand Cascades Lodge at 4PM on December 13th to officially flip the switch.
With criticism mounting on the wastefulness of the conference and meetings industry, Mulvihill said that a large consideration driving this project was the Resort’s desire to position itself as a best option for New York City organizations seeking to reduce the environmental impact of their offsite meetings.
“Offsite meetings and company retreats are a big part of our business, and it’s important to understand that taking 100 executives on jets to meet in a remote location not only costs money and time; it also has a major environmental cost. By contrast we can send group shuttle service to Manhattan and have a company’s team at our Resort in less time than it takes to get through airport security. So it is great to now be able to tell our conference clients that not only do their attendees not have to fly, but they can also wake up in the morning knowing they slept in a solar powered hotel.”
In addition to taking steps to lessen its guests’ impact on the environment, the Resort has also developed a number of offerings with themes of sustainability including local farm tours, guided nature hikes, foraging classes, and the construction of bee hives to support the rebuilding of the local bee population.
“While we recognize that the primary purpose of a company’s offsite meeting may be to provide training, updates on new product rollouts and other corporate initiatives, it never hurts to enhance an event with additional experiences that can give attendees a connection with nature and inspire them to be better stewards of our environment,” said Mulvihill. “After all, happy, inspired employees tend to be more productive.”
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