Ski the Sustainable Slopes Winter Resorts Are Greening their Operations

This year, ski areas were issued a challenge: Could they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help to undo some of the global warming damage that would inevitably be their downfall? They didn’t have to go it alone. The National Ski Area Association’s Sustainable Slopes program teamed up with Clif Bar & Company, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Leitwind and Renewable Choice Energy to launch the Climate Challenge. Participating ski resorts must complete a climate inventory on their resort operations, set a target for greenhouse gas reduction and implement a new program or project annually to meet the reduction goal. So far, eight resorts in the Sustainable Slopes Program have stepped up, including Utah’s Alta Ski Area and Canyons and Park City Mountain Resorts; Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin and Telluride Ski and Snowboard Resorts; Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming; Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts and Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort in Oregon.
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In 2011’s Sustainable Slopes annual report, over 50 resorts summarized what they have done and continue to do to provide tourists with a more sustainable getaway. Here are some of the environmental initiatives highlighted in this year’s report:Stevens Pass, Washington

This past ski season saw the installation of the nation’s first public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at a mountain pass at Stevens. Their Level II, 240-volt chargers will allow EV owners from across the region to refuel anytime year round.
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Beaver Creek Ski Vacation Resort, Colorado
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This season saw Beaver Creek’s first composting effort at their on-mountain restaurants. They also diverted nearly half a million pounds of material through their recycling efforts and limited vehicle idle times through their Idlewise Program. A top focus for Beaver Creek is energy conservation. Over the last three years the resort has reduced electricity use by 9.15% and natural gas use by 19.67%.

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Canyons Resort, UtahCanyons draws 20% of the resort’s energy from wind power. The resort also purchases local beef and produce for The Farm Restaurant and installed heater controls in the operator shacks, lift canopies and snowmaking facilities.

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Deer Valley Resort, UtahDeer Valley partnered with Recycle Utah to launch a massive recycling effort at the more than 35 summer concerts and ski competitions held at the resort, diverting 30% of the waste from the resort’s three lodges and 67% of the waste from their maintenance facility from landfills during the 2009-2010 season. And chefs at Deer Valley check the Monterey Bay Aquarium website daily to ensure they are purchasing sustainable fish products. Cooper Moose Farm, a local Park City, Utah, producer, supplies the kitchens with certified organic herbs and lettuce and all coffee served is 100% fair trade.

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Heavenly Ski Resort, Nevada In 2010-2011, Heavenly opened the new mid-mountain LEED-certified Tamarack Lodge and Resort and their Boulder Lodge served as the host site for the Compost-Your-Combustibles program where community members recycle their pine needles and other woody debris to reduce wildfire risk. Approximately 456 tons of slash, yard wastes and pine needles have been diverted from the waste stream and landfills thus far.
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Holiday Valley Resort, New York Snowmaking efficiency was improved at Holiday Valley for 2010-11 by replacing 6,000 feet of 4″ and 5″ water lines with higher volume, more energy efficient 6″ lines. In addition, the resort recycled 100% of oils and lubricants used in the maintenance facility and heating for the resort’s two spas was drawn from circulating pool water, allowing them to use only one boiler.

Vail Mountain, Colorado

Vail Mountain continues to have the largest on-mountain recycling program in the world, diverting nearly 1,000,000 pounds of various materials from landfills. This year, Vail installed solar air heaters at Belle’s Camp in Blue Sky Basin and LED lighting retrofits in the Passport Club parking garage that use 75% less electricity. Employees are also encouraged to travel on the free “townie” bikes in the summer to save on fuel.