Jeffrey Halferty Engineers a Green Garage
by Susan Redstone
Halferty staying on top of things at Aspen Total Automotive
Jeffrey Halferty is in constant motion. Indeed, the term “whirling dervish” comes to mind when describing the centrifugal force of this designer, husband, father of four, furniture-lover, Wheaten Terrier and saltwater fish tank owner, and champion of the environment whose Aspen Total Automotive, in the Airport Business Center, is one of the greenest garages in the US.
The 36-year-old business was moved recently from an inefficient, asbestos-filled home to a state-of-the-art garage that was redeveloped for owner John Guenther with Steeplechase Construction. Halferty helped create a massive fivebay car shop constructed mostly of aerated concrete block, with chambers of air that act as an insulating mass. “It’s an incredible material that’s completely green and requires no insulation. None!” Halferty says. This is quite something given the alpine climate. Here’s what is even more impressive: All the lighting, heating, hot water, and snowmelt needs are provided by electricity generated by way of recycled motor oil and solar energy. With a cool 7.2-kilowatt system taking prime position on the southern rooftop, excess solar power is stored for cloudy days. And when customers bring in their cars for an oil change, the old oil is stored and filtered, and used to run the building. “Nothing harmful that comes out of your car will ever see a sewer or a river,” Halferty says proudly.
Climbing down into a dungeon machine room, Halferty is keen to show off the garage’s recyclable fluid tanks and grease interceptor. But just as he is getting dangerously close to engineering-geek territory, he reveals that he also likes to vacation in Paris, Rome, London, and California, discovering energy-efficient design all over the world.
The garage is quite a departure from his last project, the sleek remodeling of The Regal nightclub. However, the real story of that Aspen hot spot is in the mechanics: a wattage- and voltage-thirsty nightclub was transformed into an elegant green project, with low-voltage generators and LED lighting. “I’ve been doing renewable architecture all my career,” Halferty says, including 10 years as chairman of Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission.
His next design? An off-the-grid recycling plant for a company called Plus Space near the rainforest in Honduras: Purified water will be shipped to the US in packages; mailed back as trash to Honduras, it will burn as fuel to run the water processing plant.
But does going green cost plenty of green? To this Halferty replies, “Technology and knowledge are getting better. Upfront costs are less, and the payoff in energy savings is more rapid.”
photography by Emily Chaplin and chris council