By Morgan Theys, Arizona State University
Eco-friendly parking has made its way to a longtime local favorite, El Chorro.
With its progression in sustainable design, El Chorro restaurant, located at the heart of Paradise Valley on 56th Street and Lincoln Drive, installed three electric car-charging units in its parking lot in early January.
“With the changes in society, El Chorro managers started noticing the eco-friendly trends around the valley,” said Lynita Johnson, account executive for El Chorro at Olson Communications. “They wanted to make sure they addressed the potential needs that would be coming from current and future clients with electric cars.”
Johnson said the Blink charging stations (one of which is pictured, right) have been the final step to the restaurant’s renovations, which began in 2009. Charging electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, the Blink stations offer an hour’s worth of charge at a rate of $1.20.
“Installing charging stations are a driving force in the rollout of electric cars,” said Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen, spokesperson for ECOtality, a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $114.8 million to ECOtality for the Blink electrical charging stations. The company and its partners will match that with an investment grant of $230 million to distribute 14,000 charging stations in 18 cities located in six states, including Arizona.
Many local business have stepped forward to host the Blink charging stations. There are currently eight stations located in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale.
“The Blink stations offer additional services to current customers and also expands a business’s customer base,” Cieslik-Miskimen said. “In addition to attracting more customers, local businesses want greener practices.”
Emily Rosen, a Phoenix native and customer of El Chorro, believes that the installation of charging units is a necessity in the area.
“It’s a perfect way for people to meet up, grab dinner and enjoy a night out while you’re charging your car,” Rosen said. “More stations should be installed in order for our infrastructure to support the future of sustainable practices in personal transportation.”
El Chorro — which was originally a girls' school, but converted in the '30s into a restaurant and lodge where celebrities gathered — became the first restaurant in Arizona to earn the Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Certification, a universally recognized green-building rating system. The Gold Certification is the second-highest level attainable.
As part of the renovations of the historic facilities, the restaurant has incorporated a number of green-building features, including a solar-energy heating system that reduces the restaurant’s energy use by more than 50 percent. More than 75 percent of the materials used in the redesign were recovered from the original infrastructure. In addition to the Blink electric car charging stations, El Chorro has added a solar-energy water heating system and eco-friendly insulation made of recycled blue jeans.
“It has already completed renovations that make sense to the property and its clients,” Johnson said. “El Chorro will continue to pursue new advancements as they come about.”