Reducing our Footprint: Environmental Efforts at Vermont Ski 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. This year we awarded the second round of the Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Efforts at Vermont ski resorts.
Ski Vermont resorts generate green results through improvements and collaboration with Efficiency Vermont. This season resorts are investing in highly efficient snowmaking technology with their help. We’re talking $15 million in snowmaking upgrades.
Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow is proud to have been awarded Most Improved Resort Overall and Most Improved Water Consumption in Ski Vermont’s 2014 Green Mountain Environmental Awards. In total, efficiency measures undertaken in 2013 will save 1,063,797 kWh annually. Since completing a number of projects less than a year ago, the Grand Summit Resort Hotel alone has saved 336,810 kWh, 35,630 gallons of propane and 1,237,190 gallons of water. Mount Snow also completed a 2,500 lighting fixture upgrade around the resort at the end of December, which has been called, “the most comprehensive lighting upgrade ever undertaken at a ski area in Vermont…”
Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton continues to lead by example with environmental initiatives that span the resort. With the purchase of 350 high efficiency, low energy HKD snowguns, Stratton has been able to retire the diesel compressor and move to a completely electric system, saving 60,000 gallons of fuel a year.
Ongoing programs include reusable dishes and silverware in lodges, zero-sort recycling, composting program diverting a ton of food waste every week, BigBelly solar compactors and CFLs and LEDs in corporate buildings. These initiatives are stepping stones toward Stratton’s goal of operating diesel-free and with a 15% reduction in energy consumption by 2017.
This season, Bromley’s Mountain Operations team is going all in with a 100% efficient snowmaking system. Efficiency Vermont is providing Vermont resorts great incentives to trade in inefficient ground guns and replace them with high efficiency tower guns for the coming season. Bromley will be scrapping all 59 remaining ground guns in the quiver, and purchasing 74 new HKD SV-10+ tower guns to round out the fleet. Add to that the integration of very advanced monitoring and controls technology – enabling tracking and adjustment of snow gun energy usage in real time – to help drive big energy savings.
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo continues its efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Recently, Okemo was recognized by Efficiency Vermont for its commitment to energy savings through a $1 million investment in energy-efficient snowmaking guns and infrastructure upgrades. Okemo also launched a mountain-wide initiative to monitor energy usage and curtail waste. As a result, Okemo saw substantial kwh savings and lower kw demand. Okemo is a past recipient of the prestigious National Ski Areas Association Silver Eagle Award for Environmental Education. Okemo’s Jackson Gore Inn is a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State, designated by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center. Okemo is committed to being a conscientious steward of the mountain and the environment.
At Killington Resort, we’re proud to be the winner of the Vermont Ski Areas Association 2014 Green Mountain Award for Environmental Excellence as the Greenest Overall Resort in Vermont. We got to this point by powering the K-1 Express Gondola and new Peak Lodge with Cow Power all year ‘round.
But the Cow Power Program with Green Mountain Power is just one way Killington Resort works to protect the playground we call home. From resort-wide recycling to energy-efficient snowmaking, we’ll be working to keep the green in the Green Mountains for years to come.
Suicide Six at the Woodstock Inn & Resort
The Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area has partnered with Efficiency Vermont by removing 80% of old snow guns and allowing Efficiency Vermont to recycle them for us. These proceeds will then be donated to the Vermont Ski Area Association “Learn to” programs. This initiative embraces lower energy use, lower energy cost and a better environment for everyone.
Sugarbush is an active member of the NSAA’s Climate Challenge, an intricate carbon-footprint measuring system that assists resort’s in meeting their green goals. Over the past five years, the resort has invested over $5 million in energy-efficient snowmaking including $1.8 million for the upcoming season to purchase 351 Snowlogic, HKD, and Ratnik snowguns. This capital project won a Green Mountain Award through VSAA for Best Efficiency Snowmaking Upgrade last season. All off-road vehicles (including groomers) run on a biodiesel blend. Sugarbush also works closely with the Mad Bus, the Mad River Valley's free seasonal bus service, to provide free public transportation during the winter for guests and employees.
The resort annually recycles on average more than 112 tons of recyclable materials and currently composts over 13 tons of food waste per year with significant increases since 2010. Sugarbush purchases 100% post-consumer recycled paper products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies in bulk, and uses non-toxic parts for the vehicle and lift maintenance shops. 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 developing and implementing one of the first successful water quality remediation plans in Vermont to correct stormwater runoff issues, and continues with its water quality remediation efforts around the resort.
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.”
Stowe Mountain Resort
In 2011, Stowe Mountain Resort earned ‘Sustainable Community Certification’ from Audubon International, becoming the first ski resort in the U.S. to receive this environmental achievement. The merit based program covers 15 focus areas including; Food Sourcing, Rural heritage, Economic Development & Tourism, Outreach and Education, Environment and Wildlife Protection, Water Quality, Energy and Resource Use Efficiency, Transportation and Waste Reduction.
Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources, thus leading to more sustainable communities. For more information about sustainable community efforts, visit www.auduboninternational.org.
The breathtaking landscape of Stowe defines what guests come here for. It’s also worth protecting for generations to come. That’s why Topnotch Resort, an idyllic Vermont country retreat, has joined forces with Stowe Land Trust, a local nonprofit conservation organization, in an effort to protect Stowe’s awe-inspiring landscape and vibrant community through The Forever Stowe Partnership. This program allows guests to participate in conservation efforts during their stay simply by staying at Topnotch. For each guest night, a $1 nightly donation will go to Stowe Land Trust, an organization dedicated to conserving scenic, recreational, and productive farm and forest lands for the benefit of the greater Stowe community for generations to come.
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. With snowmaking, conversion to high efficiency snow guns and electric compressors have reduced diesel consumption by two thirds. 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 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)
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.