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Keeping Vermont Mountains Green: Environmental Efforts

The Green Mountains stay green with environmentally-friendly initiatives by SkiVermont resorts.

Known affectionately as the Green Mountain State, Vermont devotes a lot of time and energy to caring for its natural surroundings. A strong connection to the land spurs environmental efforts statewide, including at ski resorts. Last season we even launched the inaugural Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Efforts at Vermont ski resorts.

Ski Vermont resorts generate green results through improvements and collaboration with Efficiency Vermont. From 2000-2011, our ski areas saved over $26 million in electrical and fossil fuel consumption and prevented over 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, primarily from building upgrades and snow-making efficiencies. 

Resort Environmental Efforts:

Jay Peak Resort
Screaming GREEN seems to be all the rage these days. That's why Jay Peak’s starting with a whisper. The resort has partnered with the Clear Water Carbon Fund, an outfit committed to local projects and reducing carbon emissions by planting trees along streams right here in Vermont. As the trees grow, they remove carbon from the atmosphere and at the same time keep water clean by filtering dirt and pollutants.

To contribute to the fund, if your roundtrip is:
4 hours or less (175 miles/283 kilometers), pay $3.
4 hours or more (over 175 miles/283 kilometers), pay $10.50.
Offset a seasons pass worth of travel with an $18.50 donation.

All of the money goes directly to the Clear Water Carbon Fund to purchase, plant, and monitor trees that will neutralize travel emissions and protect Vermont's clean water.

Burke Mountain Resort
Burke makes every effort to nurture the environment that is so critical to the livelihood of the ski industry. Their new wind turbine, which went online in October 2011, offsets the energy costs of the high-speed quad to the summit; around the same amount that 24 homes would consume over that same period.

Burke’s community composting program, initiated in winter 2012, has produced approximately 15,000 pounds of compost to be used locally  Diverting 15,000 lbs of organic waste to composting represents a greenhouse gas emissions reduction equivalent to not burning over 707 gallons of gasoline. The resort-wide recycling efforts and the use of green products in offices, cafeterias and restaurants are other steps Burke is implementing to reduce our impact on the mountain, the region and Vermont.

This year Burke Mountain received three VSAA Green Mountain Awards for Best “Environmental Awareness and Education Program,” “Greenest Composting Program” and “Most Sustainable Restaurant.”

Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Environmental stewardship programs at Smugglers’ Notch Resort have been in place since the 1970s, when the Resort launched a recycling program. Since then, stewardship efforts have included: maintaining the Five Star status in energy efficiency in residential construction; an extensive recycling program for guests, employees and on-site restaurants; 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.  The lunch program for the resort’s daily ski and snowboard children’s camp programs is trash-free, due to extensive reuse, recycle and composting efforts.

Smugglers’ is very proud to be the first resort in Vermont recognized as an Environmental Leader by the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership program. This designation recognizes Smugglers’ exemplary environmental management program focused on compliance and minimization of environmental impacts. (www.smuggs.com/environment)      

Stowe Mountain Resort
In May of 2013 the Vermont Ski Areas Association announced winners of the inaugural Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Excellence at Vermont Ski Resorts. Resorts competed to win awards in environmental stewardship and categories ranged from composting and recycling efforts, to educational programs and energy efficient renovations. The top honor of ‘Greenest Overall Resort’ in Vermont went to Stowe Mountain Resort.

The combined efforts of Stowe Mountain Resort, including Stowe Mountain Golf Club and  Stowe Mountain Lodge, puts Stowe on a level of environmental stewardship unseen in any other ski resort in the East. Stowe Mountain Resort is the first and only ski resort in North America to become a ‘Certified Sustainable Destination’ under Audubon International’s Sustainable Resort program. More info at http://www.stowe.com/2014MediaKit.

Trapp Family Lodge
Trapp Family Lodge has a policy to lessen its impact on the local and global environment. These efforts are manifested in conserving energy, water, and other natural resources; reducing waste generation; recycling and purchasing recycled products; and reducing the use of toxic materials. The lodge supports a sustainable world by instituting earth-friendly products & practices and cultivates sustainable thinking in all aspects of decision-making; from using post-consumer recycled content products to certification as a Vermont Green Hotel.

All organic waste is composted; 200,000 pounds per year stays on property and becomes great topsoil, instead of being trucked to, and filling up, a landfill. The herd of more than 50 grass-fed Scotch Highland cattle provides locally raised and harvested beef for the lodge’s restaurants. Fields that would have to be mowed are instead grazed, decreasing the use of machinery and fossil fuels. The delicious Trapp Lager beer is made from spring water that naturally has the perfect mineral composition for brewing lagers, requiring no extra processing and significantly reducing the footprint of the project.

Bolton Valley
Bolton Valley is the first ski resort in Vermont to implement wind power as an energy source. It alsoreduces diesel and electric power consumption in snowmaking with HKD snowguns and SMI fan gunsand 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

Mad River Glen
Mad River Glen’s ski experience is unique. The sustainable business model and mission of protection and preservation are downright revolutionary. It strives to maintain the current infrastructure, minimize environmental impact and stay true to the Co-op’s vision of maintaining the area’s unique character.  The philosophy is to protect and preserve the unique ski experience, putting an emphasis on the mountain, not development. The philosophy can be traced to Mad River’s founder Roland Palmedo who believed that “…a ski area is not just a place of business, a mountain amusement park, as it were. Instead it is a winter community whose members, both skiers and area personnel are dedicated to the enjoyment of the sport.”

Sugarbush Resort
Sugarbush is an active member in the NSAA’s Climate Challenge. The resort holds the goal of reducing emissions by 5% under fiscal year 2012 levels by 2015. Since 2008, Sugarbush has implemented energy efficiency projects saving 1,572,305 kWh. Its recent snowmaking upgrades, of which another $300,000 were invested for the upcoming season to purchase 70 low enegy HKD tower snowguns, won a Green Mountain Award through VSAA for Best Efficiency Snowmaking Upgrade. All off-road vehicles (including groomers) run on a biodiesel blend and Sugarbush works with the Mad Bus to provide free public transportation during the winter.

Additionally, the resort annually recycles on average more than 121 tons of recyclable materials and purchases 100% postconsumer recycled paper and paper products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies in bulk, and non-toxic parts washers for vehicle and lift maintenance. Timbers Restaurant, Sugarbush’s signature dining establishment, is a member of 1% For the Planet and donated over $10,000 to the Vermont Land Trust’s Bragg Farm project. In 2012, the resort received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for continuing develop a long-term water quality remediation process for the resort.

Rikert Nordic Center
Rikert Nordic Center’s new 5 km snowmaking system uses the patented HKD Tower Snowguns – the world first high-efficiency snowgun and still the industry leader.

Killington Resort & Pico Mountain
In addition to offsetting 100 percent of the power used at Killington Resort with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), the resort is enrolled in the Cow Power program, a completely local form of renewable energy made in Vermont.

In keeping with the Vermont tradition of buying local, the resort turned to local cows to keep the K-1 Express Gondola spinning and power the new Peak Lodge. Our friends at Green Mountain Power convert manure from Vermont dairy farms into renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse emissions in the process. That energy powers the K-1 Express Gondola and new Peak Lodge all year long.

Killington Resort was honored to receive the National Ski Areas Association Golden Eagle Award in 2013 in recognition of our ongoing dedication to the environment with the Cow Power Program.

Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo continues its efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Okemo is a past recipient of the prestigious National Ski Areas Association Silver Eagle Award for Environmental Education. Okemo’s Jackson Gore Inn was designated a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center. Recent lighting efficiencies are saving Okemo approximately $7,400 in energy costs and conserving 54,000 kWh of electricity annually. Last summer, the Resort adopted Buttermilk Falls as part of Black River Action Team’s Adopt-the-River campaign. Okemo has committed resources to cover weekly sampling of the water flowing into one of the area’s favorite swimming holes.

Bromley Mountain
In a consistent continuous effort to reduce energy consumption while producing a fantastic snow surface season after season, Bromley is following last winter’s 60 new energy efficient snowguns with the installation of a new, centrifugal air compressor. Purchased with the help of Efficiency Vermont, this new compressor replaces 3 older models, exponentially increasing our snowmaking efficiency.

Magic Mountain
Magic is purchasing 15-20 new high efficiency snow guns for the 2013-14 season which require just 35 to 45% of the air of the current snow guns. Magic anticipates putting snow on the hill with at least 50% greater efficiency this season which will improve both the amount of snow they can put down and the energy it takes to do it. As an independently owned and operated ski area, Magic keeps a close eye on energy usage both in the lodge and with outside mountain operations to maximize cost-controls, which also makes for smart environmental practices.

Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton’s Fresh Tracks programs involve projects large and small all aimed at four goals:

  1. To be a nationally recognized environmental leader
  2. To become a zero landfill resort
  3. To have sustainable infrastructure
  4. To research and implement alternative energy solutions

This past season saw replacement of paper welcome packets and paychecks, new containers resort wide for zero-sort recycling and the big-ticket addition of a new 1,500 horsepower electric snowmaking air compressor to replace a diesel model. Purchased in consultation with Efficiency Vermont, the new compressor delivers more cubic feet of air per minute using less, and cleaner energy. 

Ongoing programs include reusable dishes and silverware in the lodges, widespread recycling with an outlet for athletic shoes, skis, snowboards, outerwear and toner cartridges, BigBelly solar compactors in the Village and CFLs and LEDs in all corporate buildings.

Mount Snow Resort
Starting in 2012, Mount Snow instituted single stream recycling which has many benefits including less waste to the landfill and less cost. Since the start of the program, Mount Snow has recycled over 50 tons of material and spent 35% less on hauling fees. About 1,200 gallons of waste oil is recycled and used to heat the Mountain Operations building and fryer oil from the Food Service department is collected and sold to a company in northern New Hampshire that makes it into biodiesel. Mount Snow also channels ambient heat from the snowmaking system to warm three of the base area lodges.

Since 2000, Mount Snow has completed 14 projects that involve installing equipment to increase its energy efficiency. Efficiency Vermont, the nation's first ratepayer-funded energy efficiency utility providing services statewide, has calculated that these various projects will save 28,000,000 kWh of electricity over the equipment’s lifetime.  The savings from these projects in both electrical and fossil fuels is an estimated $430,000 per year or more than $6,000,000 over the life of the equipment.

The benefits of these projects are already clear with Mount Snow’s electrical usage down 19% last year compared to the previous seven year average.  Mount Snow is proud of its continued efforts to create environmentally sustainable initiatives at its resort.

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