National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released its 17th Sustainable Slopes Annual Report detailing the ski industry’s progress in implementing the principles of its Environmental Charter during the 2016/17 season. The report highlights results of the industry’s Climate Challenge Program, a voluntary program for resorts to inventory, target and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and engage in advocacy on climate change solutions. "More now than ever, resorts are making climate action a priority in their operations and advocacy", said NSAA president, Michael Berry.
The Climate Challenge program provides technical support and recognition to ski areas that are developing carbon inventories, setting goals for carbon reduction, and measuring success in reducing their overall carbon footprint. Participating resorts are: Alpine Meadows,Alta Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Beaver Valley Ski Club, Boreal Mountain Resort, Bridger Bowl Mountain Resort, Buttermilk, Copper Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee Resort, Granite Peak, Hunter Mountain, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, June Mountain, Killington Resort, Lutsen Mountains, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Mont Tremblant, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Mt. Bachelor, Pico Mountain, Soda Springs, Snowbird, Snowmass, Steamboat Ski & Resort, Stratton, Squaw Valley, Sugarbush Resort, Taos Ski Valley, Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, and Winter Park Resort.
The Annual Report highlights that in 2016/17, Scope 1 and 2 emissions totaled 204,477 MTCO2e for all Climate Challengers. Participating resorts implemented on-site projects that reduced emissions by 2,424 MTCO2e and purchased RECs equivalent to 33,024 MTCO2e. The cumulative impact of on-site projects since 2011 (which accrue annual reductions for the life of the project) totals 44,064 MTCO2e reductions. The cumulative total of all REC purchases since 2011 is 190,847 MTCO2e. Together, the cumulative impact of all on-site Climate Challenge projects plus REC purchases since 2011 is 234,911 MTCO2e in reduction.
Also highlighted in the 2017 report is the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program, now in its eighth year of providing seed money and in-kind donations to support important ski area sustainability projects. New this year, Ultra-Tech Lighting awarded an in-kind grant of 10 Snow-Bright™ light fixtures to Granite Peak, which will result in savings up to 85 percent over conventional lighting in operating electricity. Also, new this year, Arapahoe Basin is receiving the benefits of an in-kind consulting service grant from Brendle Group, which will help A-Basin assess the important intersection of human resources and sustainability and reap the economic benefits of incorporating sustainability into HR practices, including improved employee retention and productivity. Mt. Bachelor received a cash grant to install an infrared motion sensor control system for lighting in the Pine Marten Lodge, helping to reduce electricity use and reduce the ski area’s carbon footprint by 120 MTCO2e or 2 percent. Massachusetts-based HKD Snowmakers awarded a high-efficiency snowmaking grant to Copper Mountain Resort, which will decrease the resort’s compressed air consumption, save power, and reduce the ski area’s carbon footprint. All four grant recipients are members of the Climate Challenge.
"The ski industry thanks, NSAA supplier members Brendle Group, CLIF Bar, HKD Snowmakers and Ultra-Tech Lighting for their generous support of this program, which this year resulted in more efficient snowmaking systems, lower emissions from operations, and groundbreaking work on marrying sustainability and HR in our industry", said Geraldine Link, NSAA public policy director. With the help of these sponsors, the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program has awarded $123,500 in cash grants and $359,000 in in-kind grants, for a total of $482,500 in support of resort sustainability projects.
The report additionally recognizes the winners of SKI Magazine’s Golden Eagle Awards for environmental excellence. This year’s winners include Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Massachusetts in the small ski area category, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico in the medium-sized category, and Squaw Valley I Alpine Meadows in California the large resort category. Onno Wieringa from Alta Ski Area received the Hero of Sustainability award for his commitment to Alta’s triple bottom line performance, founding the well-respected Alta Environmental Center, and sharing his sustainability experience widely in his leadership roles across the ski industry.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. Formed in 1962, NSAA today represents 313 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboarder visits nationwide. Additionally, it has 414 supplier members who provide equipment, goods, and services to the mountain resort industry.