The Green Mountain State: Environmental Efforts at Vermont Ski and Ride Resorts
Whether reducing their carbon footprint through recycling and composting efforts, or implementing efficient upgrades in lighting and snowmaking, Vermont resorts are always making strides towards becoming more environmentally friendly. Known affectionately as the Green Mountain State, Vermont devotes a lot of time and energy to caring for its natural surroundings and the strong connection to the land spurs environmental efforts statewide.
This year Ski Vermont awarded the third round of the Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Efforts at Vermont ski resorts, and resorts annually compete for the “greenest” and “most improved” categories. The statewide efficient snowmaking upgrade resulted in reduced reliance on diesel compressors and reduced energy used for snowmaking. Resorts also employ alternative energy sources to help run operations, like wind and solar energy, and “cow power,” which harvests methane gas from local cow manure.
Read more about resort specific environmental efforts:
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.
With the huge snowmaking upgrades last season, plus the addition of a Snowmaking Energy Index, Bromley has enjoyed tracking energy usage and pinpointing locations for key energy saved. They’re continuing the energy saving effort this season, and renozzling 50 of our SV10 snow guns, turning them into SV10 plusses. What does that mean? It reduced air used from 100cfm each to 60cfm each and saves energy.
Jay Peak Resort
Trash typically isn’t “big news,” but when you’re talking about preventing more than 40 tons of it from going into Vermont’s only landfill, it’s worth noting. And as long as we’re noting things, it’s important to note that food scraps aren’t trash. At least at Jay Peak. As part of a statewide initiative, the resort has taken to diverting the food scraps from all of its restaurants and cafeterias into a composting program that will deliver each spring all of the nutrient-rich soil it needs to sustain all of the gardens around the resort.
Killington Resort & Pico Mountain
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 runs 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.
Killington also recently signed a 20-year purchase agreement with Namaste Solar to receive 3 MW of power from six new 500 kW solar arrays constructed in Vermont. The 4,700 MWh’s of new solar generated electricity will cover all energy needs required to pump water to snow guns on ski trails at both Killington and Pico.
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.”
Middlebury College Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic Center
The Snow Bowl will, for the 10th consecutive year, be offsetting their total carbon footprint, including an estimate for customer travel.
In an incredible event this year The Moore Charitable Foundation, and Middlebury College have established the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund, which will preserve and maintain the Bread Loaf campus and the surrounding forests and fields while also supporting educational programming and recreational activities. Much of the 2,100 acres will be protected through a conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow installed 645 new low-energy snow guns for the 2014-15 season, bringing the entire fleet of snowmaking equipment to 100% low-energy technology. More than ten miles of snowmaking pipe has been replaced across the mountain to improve water flow and allow the new snow guns to operate most efficiently. 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.
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo continues to reduce, reuse and recycle. The most recent reduction of Okemo’s environmental footprint is due to upgrades in snowmaking and the replacement of about 300 high-air-consumption guns with efficient HKD SV-10s and HKD Rangers. The guns are more efficient at making snow with less water consumed for more acre feet of snow. This has dramatically reduced the connected horsepower of air compressors to reduce fuel consumption. The air compressors are also more efficient “Tier 4” engines that produce fewer greenhouse gases and particulates. Okemo continues to focus on power consumption and energy efficiency projects, and is working with Efficiency Vermont on a project to upgrade the HVAC units in the Jackson Gore Inn and increase energy efficiency and reduce overall fuel consumption.
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; the installation 35 Vermont-made AllSun solar trackers, which use GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun; 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. With snowmaking, conversion to high efficiency snow guns and electric compressors have reduced diesel consumption by two thirds. A new snowmaking pipeline will expand 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. This designation recognizes Smugglers’ exemplary environmental management program focused on compliance and minimization of environmental impacts. (www.smuggs.com/environment)
Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort is not only the world’s only mountain resort to Receive Audubon International’s Sustainable Community Certification but is also the 2015 winner of Green Mountain Awards.
The Audubon International Sustainable Communities Program provides information and guidance to help communities preserve and enhance what makes them healthy and vibrant places to live, work, and play. Certified members have defined and implement a vision for their future founded in the three pillars of sustainability–a healthy local environment, quality of life for citizens, and economic vitality. Since 2000, Stowe Mountain Resort has maintained its certification in the Sustainable Communities Program by demonstrating continuous progress towards goals in the plan under fifteen focus areas. Communities go through a recertification process every two years. For more information on about sustainable community efforts, visit www.auduboninternational.org/sustainable-communities-program.
Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton Mountain Resort has been implementing environmentally friendly programs every season.
- 2014 – Joined the NSAA Climate Challenge- A voluntary program dedicated to helping participating ski areas reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reap other benefits in their operations, such as reducing costs for energy use.
- 2014 – Joined the The EPA’s Wastewise- Partners demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship, and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes.
- 2014 – Joined the Food Recovery Program- Works with businesses to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed
- 2014 – Joined the VT Green Hotel- Reflects a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental stewardship.
- 2014 – Joined the VT Green Restaurant- Recognizes business that have practices and programs in energy efficiency, water and waste reduction, recycling, purchasing, and operations.
- Since 2013 Stratton is 1 out of 10 private businesses to sign onto Efficiency Vermont’s Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI) program. Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI) is a long-term, comprehensive strategy for maximizing energy productivity. As part of this project, Stratton purchased 365 new SV10+ HKD low-energy guns and eliminated an equal number of high-energy air-water mixing guns. This upgrade allowed us to completely eliminate diesel air compressor usage, saving 59,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually. Additionally, it has reduced the use of electric generated compressed air consumption by 1,940,000 kWh, while continuing to offer the high quality snow we have become known for. This project has a lifetime savings of 28,000 tons of carbon emissions, 1,940,000 Kilowatts in electricity savings, and 59,000 gallons of diesel which equals $425,000.
Sugarbush Resort has been named a recipient of the annual Sustainable Slopes Grant Program, a National Ski Areas Association program aimed at funding sustainability projects and improving snowmaking and climate adaption at U.S. ski areas. The resort received a cash grant for a four-stream waste receptacle to start the implementation of a program to increase its diversion rate for recyclables, food scraps, liquids, and trash.
The resort also won a 2015 Green Mountain Award for Environmental Excellence through VSAA for Most Improved Waste Reduction. Sugarbush saw significant strides in recycling efforts, which were up to 33.3% of the total tonnage between recyclables and waste. In addition, composting efforts saw 12.8 tons of compost move through its system.
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 last 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.
Suicide Six Ski Area / Woodstock Inn & Resort
Suicide Six Ski Area opened in 1936 and has been constantly improving their environmental efforts over the past 80 years. Last year they revitalized old machinery and items found in the woods into new terrain park features, which cleaned up the wooded areas and gives new life to what one would consider junk/trash. They cleared hemlocks off the trails, which was 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 snow guns.