As published in ZME Science (May, 2012)
Skiing is about connecting with Mother Nature, unfortunately however ski resorts can have a negative effect on the environment because of the energy consumption of the chairlifts, grooming and snow-making machines. In recent years more ski resorts have begun to understand the importance of being eco friendly and protecting the environment where they can.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has a green resort guide outlining how environmentally friendly each ski resort is, from this we have chosen our top five eco friendly ski resorts which will help you to feel less guilty about the environmental impact your holiday will have. All the resorts we have picked have been ISO14001 approved which is a worldwide standard of environmental management.
Saas Fee (picture attached), Switzerland
Consistently ranked as one of the top eco friendly ski resorts in the world, Saas Fee is a typical picturesque resort with plenty of alpine charm. Like most Swiss resorts Saas Fee is car-free and it recently was awarded second place, Zermatt came first, by Transport and Environment Association for its excellent environmentally friendly transport system. There are bio chalets which have been renovated to environmental standards using sustainable materials. All of the chalets have a commitment to reducing energy use, recycling and waste management.
This family friendly resort prides itself on its attention to preserving the environment and has ongoing efforts to minimise the environmental impact of the resort. Kaprun uses renewable energy sources, such as solar, to power its lifts and carries out environmental works annually, including tree and grass planting by using eco friendly techniques. The resort also promotes car free days and has electro bicycles, scooters and Segways which guests can hire in addition to the re-charge stations for electro vehicles.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (USA)Jackson Hole strives to keep its resort as eco-friendly as possible and was recently given an ‘A’ on its environmental report card. Officials of the resort have signed a cap-and-trade approach for reducing carbon emissions and its recycles around a third of its waste, additionally it recycles all of its cooking oil and uses it as fuel for one of its vehicles, something it is hoping to expand. The resort has pushed for energy efficiency and environmental stewardship and has recently purchased four-stroke skidoos which are said to be less polluting than the two-stroke machines. The resort also boasts eco-friendly accommodation, the most well-known being Hotel Terra with luxury ski chalets and catered ski chalets which combines environmentally sustainable building with a luxury ski experience.
Avoriaz, FranceCommitted to being an environmentally friendly resort since it was first built, Avoriaz is a car-free resort with the majority of its accommodation boasting ski in ski out access. However if you want transport around the resort there is the option of horse and sleigh. The roofs of the buildings are designed to retain snow which is turns acts as a heat insulator. In addition all of the trees that had to be removed for the resort to be built have subsequently been replaced. Avoriaz is also home to Europe’s first eco friendly snow park ‘The Stash’. This completely natural park uses wood, trees, dirt and rock to create its jibs and features rather than environmentally harmful metals and plastics. It was also one of the first resorts to begin using the quieter and less polluting electric skidoos.
Aspen, Colorado (USA)
Aspen has built a solar array which produces enough electricity to power 20 homes as well as also developing a small hydroelectric plant on Snowmass Mountain. Over the next eight years Aspen has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 25 percent across 2000 levels. Aspen has also put new green building regulations in place which will apply to new buildings and has donated over a million dollars to local environment causes through its environmental foundation.