The most sustainable slopes in the country.
If you’ve been following the Skis.com Blog lately, you know all about how climate change is impacting the ski industry. But how are ski resorts responding to the threat that climate change poses to their industry?
As we’ve discussed in our series of infographics on climate change and the ski industry, ski resorts across the country rely on winter snowfall to support their operations and keep the industry afloat. Rather than stand around and hope for the problem to go away, however, many resorts are taking the initiative and working to make their operations more sustainable, hoping that by doing their part they can help stave off the damage done by climate change and inspire others to do the same.
Going green is easier said than done, though. Investments in sustainability demand large quantities of time and money, but the payoff can be more than just figurative; more energy efficient operations can help resorts save big on energy production and use costs. There are a lot of unique and effective ways that resorts are becoming more sustainable and fighting climate change. There are three resorts in particular that have stood out from the pack because of their commitment to sustainability:
Back in 2004, Aspen Snowmass became the first ski resort to achieve the ISO 14001 and Green Track Certification, a measure of a business’ sustainability practices. Aspen Snowmass has only built on that momentum, becoming one of the leaders in the sustainability space and a model for other resorts to follow.
They have a number of unique methods for increasing their use of renewable energy and cutting production of harmful pollutants, including a partnership with a nearby coal mine to capture waste methane vented from the mine and use it to generate carbon negative electricity. In addition to the use of solar power, hydroelectric power and wind power, Aspen Snowmass’ Environment Foundation has also donated over $3 million to more than 500 environmental protection projects across the Roaring Fork Valley. Read more about their environmental programs on their website, or join their Aspen Snowmass Sustainability group on Facebook to stay up with all their latest projects.
Park City Mountain Resort has taken extreme action the last decade to make their resort more sustainable. Voted the West’s Most Sustainable Resort in 2013, they continue to make remarkable strides in their sustainability efforts. Just a few of those efforts: they installed solar thermal panels at the mid-mountain lodge, purchased renewable energy and wind power energy credits to offset 100% of electricity and installed a solar array and vertical wind turbines which produce 20k kWh’s annually.
All of this added up reduce carbon emissions by 55,452 tons by 2013. Since then, the Park City community has doubled down on their sustainability efforts, setting some of the most ambitious sustainability goals in the country: for the whole city and community to be net-zero carbon and run on 100% renewable energy by 2032.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Over the course of the last year or so, Squaw Valley has had some impressive accomplishments in terms of sustainability. One of their biggest was in hosting the first-ever carbon neutral Audi FIS World Cup. All the emissions related to hosting the event (from the mountain operations, snowmaking, lift running and grooming to all athlete and coach travel, accommodations and meals) will be offset over the course of the next 16 years via solar panel installations on their Squaw Kids building. The event should serve as a template to future hosts of the World Cup on how they can achieve similar sustainability results.
Even more impressive is Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows’ announcement in January of 2018 that it is their goal to be 100% powered by clean, renewable energy sources….by as soon as the end of the year. The resort is actively collaborating with Liberty Utilities, the electric service provider in the Lake Tahoe region of California, to develop new renewable energy generation, storage and efficiency projects for the area. Their stated date they hope to achieve their 100% renewable goal is December of 2018, 27 years ahead of the same goal set by the of December 31, 2045. You can learn more about the project here.
With so much at stake thanks to climate change, ski resorts are taking a stand and leading the charge in environmental responsibility. To see how you can also make a difference, check out our infographic on what you can do to help fight climate change.
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