Perhaps you've seen recycling bins and reusable plates in the base lodge at your favorite resort. Perhaps you eat piping hot chili out of a biodegradable cup after an epic morning in the back bowls. But have you ever gazed from the lodge deck at that massive slopeside condo development across the way and wondered just how much your resort is doing for the environment? Are all those green triangle logos just a bunch of greenwashing?
Consider the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition (SACC). Their Ski Area Environmental Scorecards rank resorts in 10 Western U.S. states with a grade of A (highest), B, C, D, or F (lowest) based on various aspects of their commitments to going green. The criteria range from water and energy efficiency to how people get to the resort, but the biggest emphasis is placed on the amount of terrain a resort has.
According to the SACC, based on comments made by the Environmental Protection Agency, "development on undisturbed forest lands is the single most damaging ecological impact a ski area can undertake." Many in the ski industry criticize the SACC rankings for this very reason, however, citing the fact that a resort that expands terrain and increases development on forest lands will score very low, even if they build that new lodge or chairlift as sustainably as possible.
Even so, the report cards are broken down into 14 main categories and 32 subcategories, so if your resort scores low because they added that epic back bowl, you can still find out if carpool incentives are in place or if they use recycled office paper for circulating powder day info.
See if your resort's report card is refrigerator-worthy by visiting skiareacitizens.com.