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Top 10 Green Resorts

From the creation of sustainable jobs to on-slope solar panels and wind turbines, the ski industry is stepping up to the plate when it comes to environmental concerns. Here are the greenest resorts in the biz, and what they’re doing to combat global warming.


 The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club recently awarded this resort for extraordinary dedication to protection of the environment.  Crystal…

The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club recently awarded this resort for extraordinary dedication to protection of the environment. Crystal Mountain is also certified by Green Lodging Michigan, and encourages lodging properties to adopt green practices. They offer a carpool program to their employees and have incorporated several other smaller sustainable practices like in-room recycling and locally-purchased organic foods. Wind credits are used to power their high-speed Crystal Clipper chairlift and the new Crystal Spa, and long-term goals include powering the entire resort with 100% renewable energy.

Read more atwww.crystalmountain.com.

 The parent company for Mt. Bachelor, Powdr Corp (whose properties also include Killington and Park City Mountain Resort), was recognized last year…

The parent company for Mt. Bachelor, Powdr Corp (whose properties also include Killington and Park City Mountain Resort), was recognized last year with a “Green Power Leadership Award.” Mt. Bachelor purchases 100% of its power from wind, biomass, solar, and small hydro and geothermal energy sources. Used cooking oil provides the base for biodiesel-fueled resort shuttles. For those that don’t ride the shuttle, Mt. Bachelor promotes the purchase of individual SkiGreen offsets. A single SkiGreen tag is $2, and can offset the equivalent of 3 round-trip drives to and from Bend/Sunriver and the mountain. Other components of the resort’s environmental initiatives include a No Idling program and a quantitative measurement of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the National Ski Area’s Sustainable Slopes “Keep Winter Cool” program.

Read more atwww.mtbachelor.com.

 100% of Grand Targhee’s annual electricity consumption is offset through the purchase of wind-generated Renewable Energy Credits, and a 660-watt…

100% of Grand Targhee’s annual electricity consumption is offset through the purchase of wind-generated Renewable Energy Credits, and a 660-watt solar panel has been installed on the side of the Ski& Snowboard School building. A free employee shuttle bus cuts down on single-driver commutes to the resort, and the resort has implemented as aggressive recycling program. Grand Targhee also participates in SWAG, a National Ski Areas Association program that gathers old ski area employee uniforms and donates them to people in need, which also prevents the uniforms from being thrown into a landfill. Partnerships between the resort and environmental organization have led to participation in several research projects, including the Wolverine Monitoring Progam, the Whitebark Pine Management Program, and the Douglas-Fir Pest Management Program.

Read more atwww.grandtarghee.com.

 Stratton offsets 100% of its 22 million pounds of energy (equivalent to 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions) and has partnered with Renewable…

Stratton offsets 100% of its 22 million pounds of energy (equivalent to 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions) and has partnered with Renewable Choice Vermont to offer lift ticket incentives to guests who purchase renewable energy credits. Tons of smaller moves to conserve energy and reduce waste have been implemented; these include biodegradable cups/utensils/containers in restaurants, formal “No Idle” zones discouraging cars from polluting around the resort, more energy-efficient snowmaking technology, single stream recycling, and increased refrigeration efficiency. One of the bigger programs, though, is Stratton’s Forest Management Plan, part of a pilot program created by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Timber is sustainably harvested and certified and then is sent to a local hardwood furniture manufacturer, which employs over 90 local workers.

Read more atwww.stratton.com.

 Grassroots efforts several years ago kick-started Sugarloaf’s environmental initiatives, including a ski patroller’s collection of used grease from…

Grassroots efforts several years ago kick-started Sugarloaf’s environmental initiatives, including a ski patroller’s collection of used grease from local restaurants for use in mountain shuttles, and a pilot composting program. The restaurant grease is now converted into biofuel and is used in all the resort’s on-mountain vehicles and their grooming fleet. And nearly all of the area restaurants now participate in the composting program, which takes pre- and post-consumer food waste and turns it into a nutrient-rich soil which is used on the Sugarloaf Golf Course and gardens around the community. Other programs include erosion control, waste management, and a state-of-the-art, highly efficient Snowfluent wastewater treatment plant. Built in 1995, the plant was the first of its kind in the world.

Read more atwww.sugarloaf.com.

 Climate change, waste management, land use, and water quality and conservation are the cornerstones to Whistler’s environmental operations, and…

Climate change, waste management, land use, and water quality and conservation are the cornerstones to Whistler’s environmental operations, and there are plenty of examples of how they’re being implemented. A river turbine was installed in Flute Creek to power the hut at the Symphony Express chairlift, and the lift was originally constructed with limited impact to the terrain underneath it by using helicopters to bring materials in. Waste management has reduced the amount of trash going into landfills by 60%. The resort’s “Operation Green Up” has spent over $1.5 million to protect neighboring wildlife habitats and native species. Whistler also has several sustainability programs in place such as Earth Day, Clean Air Day, Environment Week, the Commuter Challenge, and Mountain& Valley Clean-Up Days. The next development in Whistler’s green game is the construction of a micro-hydroelectricity project located on Fitzsimmons Creek – within the resort’s operating area – that will offset the total annual energy consumption of the resort. This includes the energy generated by winter and summer operations of 38 lifts, 17 restaurants, 269 snow guns, and all other buildings.

Read more atwww.whistlerblackcomb.com.

 Vail Resorts includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly in California.  As most people could probably guess,…

Vail Resorts includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly in California. As most people could probably guess, these five massive resorts take up a lot of space and resources, but Vail Resorts’ environmental component seeks to balance it all out. All five resorts are 100% powered by the purchase of wind energy credits; all on-mountain restaurants use organic ingredients through the “Appetite for Life” program; guests are offered the opportunity to contribute $1 to the National Forest Foundation through season pass sales, online lift ticket purchases, and the booking of accommodations; volunteers and local businesses are rounded up annually by Vail Resorts for river and highway clean-ups; and more than $1 million has been raised to restore neighboring national forests in Colorado and California.

Read more atwww.vailresorts.com.

Due to its agreement with the National Forest Service, A-Basin doesn’t have any lodging at the base.  In fact, there’s no village at the base either.…

Due to its agreement with the National Forest Service, A-Basin doesn’t have any lodging at the base. In fact, there’s no village at the base either. Lux-loving skiers might have issues with this, but eco-friendly ones recognize that this significantly reduces the ski area’s carbon footprint. Add the fact that they managed to increased their terrain by 80% last season with hardly a scratch on the environment, and you’ve got a winner. The Montezuma Bowl added 400 acres to the ski area, and to avoid damage to the surrounding ground vegetation, helicopters were used to deliver and install the lift towers, ropes, and chairs for the Zuma Lift instead of driving them in. And because the terrain is a natural bowl, the project called for minimal grading and tree clearing. A-Basin also has an employee payroll deduction fund that benefits local environmental organizations, and it offsets 100% of its electricity use with wind power and offers carpooling incentives (such as discounted lift tickets) and free public transportation. Sign up for their Snow Huggers Club for $20 and get even more discounts monthly.

Read more atwww.arapahoebasin.com.

Last July, Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) celebrated the installation of the largest solar photovoltaic array (read: solar panels) in the ski industry. …

Last July, Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) celebrated the installation of the largest solar photovoltaic array (read: solar panels) in the ski industry. The ASC-funded project powers the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, with excess energy being fed into the power grid of nearby Carbondale. But that’s just one of the more recent efforts Aspen has made towards environmental stewardship: ASC has been making huge strides since 1997, when they pioneered ski industry purchases of wind power. Another first included building one of the first 11 LEED-certified buildings in the world, as well as launching the first climate change education campaign in the industry. A legally-binding climate policy committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 10% by 2012 from 2000 levels now joins other initiatives like the employee-funded Environment Foundation, which has raised over $1.2 million for local environmental projects. The list goes on, and Aspen has emerged as a true leader in green initiatives within the ski industry.

Read more atwww.aspensnowmass.com.

 This small resort in Massachusetts made huge waves in the ski industry two years ago when it rigged up a massive wind turbine directly on the…

This small resort in Massachusetts made huge waves in the ski industry two years ago when it rigged up a massive wind turbine directly on the slopes, the first mountain resort in North America to ever do so. The turbine, named Zephyr, powers about 33% of the resort’s electrical demands annually, and can provide as much as half during winter months when the wind is stronger. The resort estimates that this amount of electricity is equivalent to planting 83,000 new trees. Besides the Zephyr turbine, Jiminy has also saved energy through snowmaking improvements, lightbulb replacements, by gathering excess heat from snowmaking to heat buildings in its village, and more. But nothing quite beats the visibility of a giant hunk of energy-producing metal protruding into the sky next to your favorite run. Props to Jiminy.

Read more atwww.jiminypeak.com.