The Associated Press reports a model of large-scale renewable energy production at Massachusetts’ Jimmy Peak Ski Resort. The installation of Jimmy’s 386-foot, $3.9 million turbine named “Zephyr” cut the resorts electricity costs by $200,000 last year — the first full year the turbine was operational. In contrast to simply buying renewable energy credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions, the turbine represents a green technology that can provide needed electrical power—and an immediate payoff. Read the rest of this entry »
What does the economic downturn mean for skiing? Love your locals. While you might see miles of empty condos in Vail or Big Sky this year, some smaller resorts located nearer to a population base are enjoying record numbers. High-priced trips to destination resorts are out. Daily or weekend trips to resorts closer to home are in. And, as always, deep snow can trump location and the economy. Read the rest of this entry »
What does climate change mean for the Northwestern portion of the United States? An in-depth report from the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington provides some grim answers to that question. Among the “highest confidence” predictions for this region include: warmer temperature throughout the year, decreased summer water supply, and increased probability of drought. Skier translation: more rain and less snow in the winter. But perhaps the most surprising finding is the speed of change. The authors point out significant impacts in just the next ten years: Read the rest of this entry »
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sponsors the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network to encourage networking, information exchange, and better access to assistance. This network consists of an even mix of over 3,000 individuals, non-profit organizations, businesses, local governments, educational institutions, and other organizations in Minnesota (and bordering areas) who are interested in moving toward sustainability. The site is Minnesota specific, but the network model and information posted there is certainly relevant to all with an interest in sustainability.
The Sustainable Ski Slopes page provides a nice summary of sustainability efforts within the ski industry, including the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes program, the Keep Winter Cool campaign, the Ski Area Citizens Coalition, as well as specific case studies and recommendations for ski area personnel.
Never traveled by train in the United States? It’s a great break from overstuffed planes and airport waiting lines. RMA Travel and Tours offers Amtrak train packages to ski resorts in Colorado and Montana. Serving Colorado resorts including Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, as well as Whitefish Resort in Montana.
Results of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries were released last week that suggest that there is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change. Read the rest of this entry »
Keystone Resort announced last Wednesday a new carpool incentive program that encourages skiers and riders to drive together to the popular Colorado ski resort. Skiers and riders who arrive at Keystone Resort with four or more people in a car will be able to park in a premier parking section in Keystone’s Montezuma Parking Lot which is a short walk to the new River Run Gondola.
“As one of the closest major resorts to the Front Range, Keystone chose to develop a program that encourages carpooling among our guests to our Resort. This program will help alleviate congestion on I-70 and also help protect the environment,” said Pat Campbell, Chief Operating Office of Keystone Resort.
Demonstrating that sustainable alternatives can be more convenient than current solutions, the premier parking is available on a first-come, first served basis and will be open for guests everyday throughout the ski season. Keystone parking attendants will direct any car that meets these requirements to the close-in section. The carpool parking will be open during peak hours of the morning until 11 a.m. or the lot is full each day.
The bi-partisan Western Governors’ Association (WGA) has given President-elect Barack Obama a four-page letter detailing its recommendations for the new administration’s energy policy, including an “aggressive and achievable national greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.” The Assocated Press reported that the Western Governors’ Association proposed a mandatory national system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through “market-based mechanisms.”
Why does the WGA support clean energy technology when the 19 member states are responsible for 94 percent of the country’s onshore oil reserves and 66 percent of its coal reserves? Read the rest of this entry »
Carbon offsetting as part of a “carbon neutral” lifestyle has gained some appeal and momentum mainly among consumers in western countries who are concerned about the potentially negative environmental effects of energy-intensive lifestyles. Carbon offsets enable individuals and businesses to reduce the CO2 emissions they are responsible for by offsetting, reducing or displacing the CO2 in another place, usually where it is more economical to do so.
Carbon offsets typically include renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. Carbon offsets are popular with ski areas seeking to make up for some of the carbon emitted by their electrical usage, grooming and visitor vehicles. Ski resorts are big energy—and energy offset—users. But are these offset programs real or just marketing gimmicks? Read the rest of this entry »
Green Watch was a twitter project done by the La Marguerite, a blog focused on “behavioral solutions to global warming” as well as marketing its own consulting services. They make a couple of interesting points that seem relevant to skiing green:
1. We are addicted to convenience, even more than to things. Rather than fighting that addiction, we should focus on sustainable alternatives that are more convenient that current solutions.
Last year at Breckenridge, Colorado I used the Summit Stage bus system to get to the lift. If you’ve ever tried parking at Breck on a powder day at 8:30 am, you know that the bus is much faster and easier: hop on the bus, smile and nod at the other folks NOT scraping their windshields, and hop off at the lift. Better yet, the parking costs money but riding the bus is free. Green alternatives need to be both cleaner and more convenient than the technologies they replace. By the way, if you don’t want to pay for a condo in Breckenridge, check out CouchSurfing.com for a free place to stay (and it will probably be on the bus system too).
2. The switch from car to alternative low-energy modes of transportation requires that people experience first hand the superior benefits of those alternatives.
Over the last year I’ve tried to ride my bike for any trip less than five miles from my house. Once I got into the habit, I realized that biking took no more time than driving, avoided parking problems, got me talking with my neighbors more and cost me nothing. Best of all, the extra exercise will help me live longer. Benefits of bicycling—a small step in living green—need to be more than “understood,” they need to be experienced before they are real.