Turning Up the Effort and Off the Lights: Sustainable Practices at Vermont Resorts
As a state with one of the lowest energy consumption rates in all the nation, it is only natural that the ski and snowboard resorts which inhabit the Green Mountains also strive to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Each year, Vermont’s resorts continually look for ways to improve their efficiency, lower energy consumption and replace inefficient systems with sustainable ones. Visitors and loyal skiers and snowboarders will notice upgrades all across the mountains this season, from new groomers and efficient snow guns, to recycled water programs, composting, recycling bins and in some cases, entirely “trash-free” zones and programs.
Bolton Valley is the first ski resort in Vermont to implement wind power as an energy source. Bolton 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. Additionally, 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.
A Green Machine, Bromley has added a PistenBully 600E+ to their grooming fleet, bringing diesel-electric hybrid power to the Sun Mountain. They’re also continuing the base lodge “Go Green” implementation this season, eliminating organic waste and all recyclables from the Bromley dumpsters. Partnering with Taylor Farm in Londonderry, Bromley sends much of their compostable waste a very short way down the road to improve local soil, and likely fatten up some pigs, too.
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.
Killington is the home of Cow Power, with over 1 million kilowatt hours annually coming from Vermont dairy cows, specifically their waste. In addition to supporting local farms and harvesting methane gas, Killington continues to invest heavily in solar power with plans to install solar trackers and roof-top panels across the resort ahead of the 2017-18 winter season, helping to keep one of Vermont’s greenest resorts sustainable.
Mad River Glen
Mad River Glen 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.”
New ownership has invested in a more sustainable model for Magic which includes investment in equipment and practices which will reduce the ski area’s carbon footprint while making Magic more efficient to operate over the long-term. Beginning last season and extending into this season, Magic has invested in over 50 new energy efficient snowmaking guns and is the only ski area 100% powered with variable frequency drives for its snowmaking pumps, reducing energy consumption for every inch of blown snow. Magic reduced its energy bill by 50% while making more snow last year. Further improvements to snowmaking pipes and a switch from primarily diesel compressors to electric compressors should further lighten energy consumption and expense. The lodge has also been re-insulated with the latest spray foam technology to create a better barrier against heat loss and improve the warmth and energy efficiency of the lodge.
Mount Snow Resort
Thanks to their ongoing partnership with Efficiency Vermont and the recent upgrades to the snowmaking systems, Mount Snow will be swapping out the last of their old snow guns this season, bringing its entire fleet of over 900 snow guns, including one of the largest fleets of fan guns in North America, to 100% low-energy technology.
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 make Okemo more efficient at making snow with less water consumed – resulting in more feet of snow on the trails. 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.
Smugglers Notch Resort
Since the 1970’s, Smugglers’ has been a leader in environmental stewardship. Operating a mountainside village of their scale in addition to 1200 acres of alpine terrain requires constant attention to and implementation of sustainable practices. Smugglers’ maintains the Five Star status in energy efficiency in residential construction, wildlife and habitat protection with ongoing tracking of both the Bicknell’s thrush and black bear populations, and operation of the Living Machine treatment facility using natural biological processes to treat a significant portion of the resort’s wastewater. Through 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, the snowmaking system has reduced diesel consumption by two thirds thanks to a 100% upgrade to the snow gun fleet. 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.
Stowe Mountain Resort
On July 25, 2017, Stowe’s parent company, Vail Resorts, announced that they will aggressively pursue a comprehensive sustainability commitment, called “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint”. This ambitious undertaking, commits to zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero operating impact to forests and habitat. “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” will enable guests visiting Stowe the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment and resources without leaving an impact.
Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton is dedicated to year-round environmental efficiency in every aspect of operation. In efforts to reduce landfill waste and contribute to a sustainable environment, Stratton has increased its landfill diversion tonnage by 18%. By installing sub-metering equipment and specialized energy software, mountain operations has closely monitored energy consumption and recognized opportunities to reduce energy use, resulting in a 14% reduction in emissions in two years. As a member of the Vermont Green Hotel Program, Stratton’s sustainability efforts reflect a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental stewardship.
Sugarbush has been part of the NSAA Climate Challenge since 2011, a voluntary program aimed at decreasing its carbon footprint. This past season, Sugarbush entered into a long-term partnership with Green Lantern Capital of Waterbury, Vermont, to support the development of 2.5 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy. As of early 2017, four 500-kilowatt arrays—in Poultney, Brandon, New Haven, and Guilford--are fully operational and plugged into Green Mountain Power’s electrical grid. A fifth project, in Wells River, is scheduled to come online by the end of 2017. Sugarbush has a number of other green initiatives including energy-efficient snowmaking, a composting/recycling policy, Tesla charging stations and a bio-diesel policy for off-road vehicles. The resort also works closely with the Mad Bus, the Mad River Valley’s free seasonal bus service.
The Woodstock Inn and Suicide Six Ski Area
Suicide Six addressed slope and contour issues this summer, which will allow the skiing surfaces to be readied much more efficiently than before. They’ve also purchased a new slope mower and efficient snow guns that will further allow them to roll out the white carpet for loyal skiers and riders, with less energy