The Carbon "Boot Print": Environmental Efforts at Vermont Resorts
As cliché as it may be, we’re not called the Green Mountain State for nothing- from composting, cow power, geothermal buildings and more, Vermonters and their resorts work hard every day to keep this state in the beautiful, healthy condition we have had the honor of experiencing it in.
Last season, Vermont resorts completed the largest snow gun efficiency upgrade in the history of snowmaking. This statewide effort came in partnership with Efficiency Vermont and the Great Snow Gun Roundup. The upgrades during this campaign resulted in enough electricity saved to supply approximately 1,500 Vermont homes for one full year and enough diesel save to heat 340 Vermont homes annually.
Learn more about the ways Vermont resorts are reducing, reusing and recycling to keep Vermont green:
Stowe Mountain Resort
The Adventure Center at Stowe Mountain Resort is the largest geothermal system installed in Vermont to date. Inside the Adventure Center you will find multiple locker rooms, one restaurant, one cafeteria, climbing gym, one retail store, ski school operation, nineteen residential units, and a 144 car underground parking garage. The building was designed with a geothermal heating and cooling system using 45,500 linear feet of earth based heat exchanger. The geothermal system also includes heating of the domestic hot water for all applications. The energy efficient/sustainably designed building also incorporates: detailed energy modeling for schematic design development, an improved thermal envelope, high efficiency LED lighting and controls, energy recovery ventilation with demand control operation, water conservation plumbing fixtures, and many other sustainable features. http://www.stowe.com/about/environmental/
Mount Snow Resort
After a successful pilot program, Mount Snow is rolling out a resort-wide composting program for winter 16/17 and will offer guests the ability to compost, as well as compost food waste from restaurants around the resort. This offseason has also seen the snowmaking team overhauling valve houses and installing new pipelines to help water flow more efficiently through snowmaking operations. In addition to these green upgrades, Mount Snow’s Green Team sends out weekly Green Messages to resort staff with tips and encouragement to be more environmentally friendly.
Sugarbush is an active member of the NSAA’s Climate Challenge, an intricate carbon-footprint measuring system that assists resorts in meeting their green goals. The 2015 calendar year saw the lowest resort wide KWH usage in the last 14 years thanks in large part to the energy efficient snowmaking upgrades made over the last several seasons. After implementing a four-stream waste receptacle thanks to a Sustainable Slopes Grant from the NSAA last season, Sugarbush has since installed several additional receptacles as it continues to increase its diversion rate for recyclables, food scraps, liquids and trash. The 2016 calendar year as of August had already seen as much compost move through the system as it had in all of 2015; a sign that the program, and education along with it, is working. In addition, all off-road vehicles at the resort (including groomers) run on a biodiesel blend.
Jay Peak Resort
Under the direction of Dan Higgins, the lead chef at Jay Peak's Alice's Table restaurant, the resort has diverted over 74 tons of food scraps and soiled paper from Vermont’s only landfill, and instead to an on-farm composting facility. That's a big number, one amplified when you consider it translates to a reduction of more than 3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Since the 1970s, when Smugglers’ Notch Resort launched its recycling program, stewardship programs at the resort have expanded to include such efforts as maintaining the Five Star status in energy efficiency in residential construction; wildlife and habitat protection with ongoing tracking of both the Bicknell’s thrush and the black bear; and operation of the Living Machine treatment facility that uses natural biological processes to treat a percentage of the Resort’s wastewater. With extensive reuse, recycle and composting efforts in place, lunch service for the resort’s daily ski and snowboard children’s camp programs is trash-free. On the mountain, conversion to high efficiency snow guns and electric compressors have reduced diesel consumption by two thirds. Installation of a snowmaking pipeline in Winter 2015/2016 expanded the output of the snowmaking system while meeting environmental standards to protect stream flows. Smugglers’ is the first resort in Vermont recognized as an Environmental Leader by the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership program, reflecting Smugglers’ comprehensive environmental management program focused on compliance and minimization of environmental impacts. (www.smuggs.com/environment)
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo continues to reduce, reuse and recycle. Recent upgrades in snowmaking and the replacement of high-air-consumption guns with efficient HKD SV-10s and HKD Rangers make Okemo more efficient at making snow with less water consumed – resulting in more feet of snow. Okemo’s new Prinoth Bison X park cat is equipped with a Caterpillar 400 horsepower, tier 4 engine that meets all the new federal emission standards with more fuel efficiency and a 40 horsepower increase compared to the previous model. Okemo continues to focus on power consumption and energy efficiency projects, and is working closely with Efficiency Vermont.
Stratton Mountain Resort
In efforts to reduce landfill waste and contribute to a sustainable environment, Stratton composted 19.10 tons of food in the 2014-15 winter season, and was the only Vermont organization to be recognized in the EPA’s annual “Food Recovery Challenge.” By installing sub-metering equipment and specialized energy software, mountain operations have closely monitored energy consumption and recognized opportunities to reduce energy use. As a member of the Vermont Green Hotel Program, Stratton’s sustainability efforts reflect a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental stewardship.
Bolton Valley is the first ski resort in Vermont to implement wind power as an energy source. It also reduces diesel and electric power consumption in snowmaking with HKD snowguns and SMI fan guns and reduces fossil fuel consumption for heating the base lodge with Magnum Countryside pellet stoves. All used cooking oil is donated to the Alternative Fuel Foundation. Bolton Valley is also an advocate for recycling, safe snowmelt, environmental towel programs and more. Learn more at http://www.boltonvalley.com/about-us/environmental-initiatives.
Killington is the home of Cow Power, with over 1 million kWh annually coming from Vermont dairy cows, specifically their waste. In addition to supporting local farms and harvesting methane gas, Killington has invested significantly in solar power and is on track to eventually run all lifts and lodges with these renewable forms of energy. Over 400 high efficiency snowguns saved 1 billion CFM in their first year, helping to keep one of Vermont’s greenest resorts sustainable.
Bromley Mountain Resort
With a focus on both establishing new habits and reinforcing some current good ones, Bromley rethinks trash, recycling and composting food waste to implement a “Go Green” initiative this winter season. The intent is to eliminate organic waste and all recyclables from the Bromley dumpsters containing refuse destined for the landfill. Vermont and the planet have extremely limited landfill space, and the Sun Mountain staffers and guests won’t be the ones filling it up. Partnering with Taylor Farm in Londonderry, Bromley will be sending much of their compostable waste a very short way down the road to improve local soil, and likely fatten up some pigs, too. Visit bromley.com for details.
Under Magic’s new ownership, environmental efforts will gain even more attention. New snow guns will be purchased for 2016-17 to improve the energy efficiency of snow-making efforts. In addition, there will be a new wood-burning stove for the upper lodge to improve heating efficiencies, with the wood coming from Magic’s glades to enhance sustainability.
Middlebury College Snow Bowl
The Snow Bowl continues to offset all of its carbon bootprint as it has for the last ten years. In collaboration with Native Energy in Charlotte, the Bowl even offsets a calculation for customer travel.
Suicide Six Ski Area/ Woodstock Inn
Suicide Six Ski Area opened in 1936 and has been constantly improving their environmental efforts over the past 80 years. In the past two years they revitalized old machinery and items found in the woods into new terrain park features, which cleaned up the wooded areas and gave new life to found objects. They cleared hemlocks off the trails, which were milled into lumber, and rebuilt all exterior decks on the ski area instead of purchasing commercially made lumber. They also partnered with Efficiency Vermont to purchase new efficient snow guns.