Squaw, Taos and Berkshire East Win SKI’s 2017 Environmental Awards

Alta's Onno Wieringa named this season's Hero of Sustainability.
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Alta's Onno Wieringa named this season's Hero of Sustainability.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Taos Ski Valley and Berkshire East Mountain Resort recently won 2017 Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence. In addition, Onno Wieringa, the retiring general manager of Alta, was named the 2017 “Hero of Sustainability” honoree.

A partnership between SKI Magazine and the National Ski Areas Association, these awards go out to ski resorts that “actively address environmental issues, raise the bar, and encourage other resorts to follow suit.” The awards were recently announced at NSAA’s annual national convention.

Squaw Valley won the Golden Eagle Award in the large resort category for its multi-facted approach to sustainability, and leveraging its influence in support of climate change solutions.

Winner of the Golden Eagle in the large resort category, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows was honored for its work to preserve its own iconic mountainscape, and for using its influence to grow green programs throughout the industry.

Winner of the Golden Eagle in the large resort category, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows was honored for its work to preserve its own iconic mountainscape, and for using its influence to grow green programs throughout the industry.

Squaw has reduced its own carbon footprint as an early adopter of sustainable technologies and a participant in the Climate Challenge. The resort supports a broad array of regional transit and parking initiatives, including free POW Parking for HOVs, free electric car charging, free skier shuttle services between lodging and the mountain, and between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, eliminating roughly 85 tons of CO in emissions annually. In collaboration with FIS, Squaw accomplished a Carbon Neutral 2017 World Cup by offsetting the event’s carbon footprint.

Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico took the top environmental honors in the medium-sized ski area category for its comprehensive and groundbreaking “Taos Verde” sustainability program. This year Taos was the first ski resort in the world to become a certified B Corporation. Certified B Corps are required to meet the highest standards of verified economic, social, and environmental performance, and public transparency. Taos has taken drastic actions over the past two years to reduce its overall energy consumption by 10 percent. The resort is a participant in the Climate Challenge, and has committed to a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. Taos has discontinued the sale of disposable plastic bottles at all facilities—offering reusable bottles as an alternative—expecting to remove 10,000 plastic bottles from its waste stream annually.

Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Massachusetts won the Golden Eagle in the small ski area category. Berkshire East produces more electricity than it uses on an annual net basis. In 2012, the ski area was the first in the world to power 100 percent of its operation with a wind turbine and a solar field. The resort’s collective renewable energy and efficiency measures result in about 2.6 million pounds of CO reduced annually. In addition, the resort installed a wood burning system that uses wood cut from the resort’s forest management and glading work, and a sawmill to produce finished lumber from blow-down timber for construction or replacement of buildings.

Onno Wieringa, who retired this year, was honored as the 2017 Hero of Sustainability for his environmental leadership at the helm of Alta Ski Area. An Alta employee for 44 years, and the general manager since 1972, he was the embodiment Alta. Wieringa published one of the industry’s first environmental reports and commissioned one of the first ski area greenhouse gas inventories in the country, years before NSAA launched the Climate Challenge, long before we had POW or Paris. In 2008, he founded the Alta Environmental Center (AEC) to pursue sustainability internally for the ski area, act as a resource to the community, and foster environmental education. The AEC has received much deserved recognition for its many contributions to sustainability. Wieringa has shared his sustainability experience widely in his leadership roles across the industry, including years of service on the NSAA Environmental Committee and Ski Utah.

For more information on the annual Golden Eagle Environmental Awards, head here.