Ski Resorts Get Creative to Battle Global Warming

Ski Resorts Get Creative to Battle Global Warming

Ski resorts across the country are launching a new campaign to highlight the impact of global warming on winter recreation and the opportunities both resort operators and their guests have to start solving the problem. The "Keep Winter Cool" campaign is a partnership between the National Ski Areas Association and Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental organization.

Resorts adopted a new climate change policy this season to address global warming. The resorts are using a variety of measures to reduce global warming emissions in their operations, including pollution-free wind energy to run buildings and lifts and the use of energy-efficient green building techniques. They're also retrofitting existing facilities to save energy and money, replacing inefficient compressors in snowmaking operations, using alternative fuels in resort vehicle fleets, and providing or promoting car pooling or mass transit use by guests and employees.

"Global warming is a tough challenge, but we know how to fix it," said Dr. Daniel Lashof, deputy director and chief scientist for the NRDC Climate Center. "The problem is pollution from cars and power plants, which traps heat in the atmosphere. The answer is cleaner, smarter energy technologies that pollute less. The ski industry is calling attention to the threat, and more important, the solutions that exist right now to fight global warming."

Here are some of the initiatives ski resorts are implementing to battle global warming:
  • Five ski areas (Gore Mountain, Holiday Valley, and Peek 'n Peak in New York and Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon) are teaming up with Green Mountain Energy Company to purchase enough pollution-free windpower to run the resorts' main chair lifts for the day -- 18,000 kilowatt-hours -- offsetting more than 10 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • In California, Mammoth Mountain is rolling out a new alternative energy project - the use of solar heating for lift shacks. Mammoth recently installed a solar external thermal heating panel on the lift shack at the top of Thunder Bound Express and plans to install solar panels on additional resort lift shacks within the next month. Mammoth has also announced plans to use of renewable, biodiesel fuel made partly from recycled cooking oil in its Snowcats.
  • Northstar-at-Tahoe is conducting a biodiesel test program with five of its on-site transportation buses. If successful, Northstar plans to eventually run its entire transportation fleet on biodiesel.
  • In Colorado, Keystone Resort purchases 16,500 kilowatt-hours of renewable wind power per month, the maximum amount available from the local utility. In addition, Keystone's River Run Information Center features natural daylighting and is powered by a new solar energy system.
  • Vail Mountain purchases 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year of wind energy to power the Wildwood Express Lift, preventing 300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Aspen Skiing Company purchases wind energy to power the Cirque Lift at Snowmass and the Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain. ASC recently announced that guests driving low-pollution hybrid vehicles -- gasoline-electric cars that cut CO2 emissions in half and never need plugging in -- will park for free at certain lots all season long.
  • Winter Park Resort has installed an integrated computer program called "AreaNET," which saves energy by managing electrical-power consumption at the resort for maximum efficiency. The program was designed by one of the resort's own electricians.
  • In Vermont, Mount Snow Resort has cut energy consumption in half at the Main Base Lodge and Snow Lake Lodge by replacing hundreds of conventional light bulbs with compact fluorescents. Mount Snow has also installed dozens of energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns which reduce the energy needed to pump water and compressed air. Mount Snow also re-uses energy, using heat extracted from snowmaking compressor systems to heat its Main Base Lodge and Clocktower buildings.
  • In Wyoming, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort purchases wind energy to power two of its chairlifts: Moose Creek and Union Pass.
  • Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon is offering customers a chance to buy $2 "Mini-Green Tags" from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to support electrical production from renewable energy facilities. The average single-car round-trip between Portland and Meadows produces 140 pounds of carbon dioxide, and the purchase of a $2 "Mini-Green Tag" allows guests to offset those emissions and "Ski Pollution Free."