Finding a natural solution
For months now I’ve been yearning to see the mountains. My family used to spend every summer in Vail, Colorado, but it’s been nearly four years since my last trip—so I’ve been scheming about how I can get my friends to go. My best idea so far: a ski trip.
Autumn may just have begun, but it’s never too early to start planning a ski trip. As I began looking for green ski resorts, I ran across a list of the top ten green ski resorts from the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition (SACC), a group that works to ensure ski areas are responsive to environmental concerns, local communities and the skiing public.
These ski resorts earned an A in sustainability—literally. Each of these American ski resorts received an A grade on SACC’s Ski Area Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard rates 83 resorts in the West on issues such as environmental policies, renewable energy, waste stream management and preserving environmentally sensitive areas.
SACC’s top ten ski resorts are:
1. Aspen Mountain Ski Resort, Colorado
This resort’s solar photovoltaic system, hydroelectric plant, two LEED-certified buildings and climate change education campaign helped secure it the top spot on the list. The Aspen Skiing Company owns this mountain—as well as two other mountains on this list.
2. Buttermilk Mountain Ski Resort, Colorado
Owned by the Aspen Skiing Company, this resort has many of the same green features as Aspen Mountain. The company founded the Environment Foundation, to which more than half of the company’s employees donate to support environmental projects in the community.
3. Sundance Resort, Utah
Sundance’s commitment has been to develop very little and preserve a great deal. Green features include the use of hybrid vehicles, mountain preservation and a unique glass works kiln that breaks down bottles and turns them into art and house wares.
"Our committment to Sundance has always been to develop very little and preserve a great deal." —Robert Redford/Photo Courtesy Sundance Resort.
4. Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
This resort offsets 100 percent of its energy use with renewable energy credits for which it received a Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency. It also has decreased its snowmobile fleet by 30 percent, uses biodiesel fuel, prints mountain guides on recyclable paper and has commissioned a scientific study of global warming’s effect on the area.
5. Squaw Valley USA, California
Squaw Valley won the Waste Reduction Award in 2003 and 2008 for incorporating waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts into daily business activities. This resort has a comprehensive recycling program, environmentally focused community outreach programs and an environmental improvement department devoted to erosion control, re-vegetation and other projects.
6. Alpine Meadows Ski Area, California
Green features include biodiesel fuel use, native plant revegetation projects and extensive recycling programs. Alpine Meadows also donates to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which restores watersheds and develops renewable energy in the Northwest.
7. Aspen Highlands Ski Resort, Colorado
The Aspen Skiing Company also owns this mountain resort. Green features are the same as its sister resorts.
Telluride Ski Resort's green efforts have earned it a Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence. Photo Courtesy Telluride Ski Resort.
8. Bogus Basin Mountain Resort, Idaho
Located near Boise, Idaho, this resort says it strives to be good stewards of its mountain by focusing on energy conversation, air and water quality, waste management and environmental education.
9. Mt. Bachelor Ski Area, Oregon
Mt. Bachelor purchases 100 percent of its power from renewable energy sources. It tries to reduce its carbon footprint by recycling, using green cleaning agents for its vehicles and remodeling the kitchen to allow for china service.
10. Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado
Telluride has won the National Ski Area Association’s Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence and the Regional Forester’s Caring for the Land Stewardship Award. Its environmental efforts include energy conservation, waste reduction, air quality and fuel reduction.
For information on green ski resorts in Canada, check out Under the Sleeping Buffalo (UTSB) Research. USTB uses the same criteria as SAAC to rate its green ski resorts.