10 Quick-Hit Facts on the Ski Industry’s Journey Towards Green

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on April 22, 2009 4:00 pm

The global warming blame game took an odd turn this week with the release of a scientific study on the amount of extra CO2 released into our atmosphere by simply being obese.  For the curious, it’s an extra ton/year, but did we really need a study to figure that out?

Obesity is a bummer.  No one likes being super fat.  The helplessness folks feel in battling their own impulses is shared by nicotine junkies, alcoholics, and talk radio listeners.  Sometimes our brains aren’t on the same team.  They fight us.  We fight back.   Who wins?

As mountain enthusiasts, we are responsible for how our own actions have an effect on the outdoors in which we play.  Tabloid newspapers may credulously shift CO2 blame to obese people, but skiers and snowboarders can only look reflectively.  How can we change our habits to have a more positive effect on our immediate environment?

The ski industry has seen rapid change in the past decade with its perspective and implementation on green issues.  Industry leader, the Aspen Skiing Company (ASC), has pioneered the green concept in the ski industry.  ASC (Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk) was the first to offset 100 percent of its electricity use with renewable energy from wind farms.  Employees have put their money where there ski masks are, contributing over $1 million for local environmental causes. 

Other resorts like Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont, Park City Mountain Resort, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, Sundance Resort, and Alta deserve not only our praise in their efforts to offset their carbon footprint, but also our business for doing so.  Carpool your way there, please.

Here’s a quick-hit of 10 facts to bring you up to speed on the the ski industry’s long journey towards green.

10.  Kirkwood has the K-Pool, an online carpool network for anyone heading to the resort.  The Search Preferences for who you want to drive (or pick-up) is the ski version of the game Clue.  But, with K-Pool, instead of Mr. Blue with the candlestick in the library, it’s a married woman over 51 who smokes, is not a telemarker or expert, from Reno.

9. Ski Dubai, although an incredible novelty, it is a prime example of environmental disregard.  Its 23 massive air conditioners are a symbol of oil wealth and all the trappings of harmful excess.  And, of course, it’s simply ski heresy that there’s no spring skiing indoors in Dubai.  For that, Ski Dubai, you have been excommunicated!

8. Venture snowboards.  Silverton, Colorado is home of the religious skiing experience that is guided skiing up on Silverton Mountain.  Venture’s “factory headquarters”, just outside of Silverton proper, are powered completely by wind power.  Boards are handmade with Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.  Supremely crafted, these snowboards use good wood for a good conscience.

7.  Jeremy Jones.  The Jedi Master of big mountain snowboarding has become an industry leader by establishing “Protect Our Winter”, a non-profit environmental initiative with a two-pronged, double-bladed lightsaber attack.  One is to establish a “green” re-direction in the snowboard and ski manufacturing process.  The second is to educate folks on simple, positive changes they can make in their daily routines.  Yes, Star Wars geek, I know the correct term for a double-bladed lightsaber is Saberstaff.

6.  Mammoth Mountain Tamarack Lodge Cabin 11.  One of only 12 projects in the entire state of California to earn LEED Platinum status.  (read more)

5. ISO 14001.  The International Organization for Standardization (ISO, not IOS (it’s a Swedish organization)) is a third party that comes in to help resorts set up an environment plan, execute that plan, and improve upon that plan.  ISO also certifies adherence to the plan, and sends Hannibal from the A-Team in when the plan comes together.  Aspen and Jackson Hole are the only North American resorts to achieve ISO 14001 status.  More than a dozen other resorts continue to work towards ISO 14001 status and a visit from George Peppard.

4. Karhu Ski Co.  The tele ski company uses Paulowinia wood in the construction of their skis.  The timber is “valued for its reforestation abilities on marginal and contaminated soil, it grows extremely quickly, giving it a high carbon sequestration value.”  Sequestration, in this case, means the Paulowina trees naturally remove (sequester) CO2 from the air and ground.  What memory trick would Scott Bornstein use for “sequestration”?

3. The Ski Areas Citizens’ Coalition is the “only non-industry, independent mechanism that gives skiers and boarders a way to assess the environmental performance of their favorite resort.”  Pretty simple, A through F grades pinned to the front of each resort’s shirt.  Pop’s gonna’ be pissed.

2. Park City Public Transit.  Wesley Willis (RIP) could have written endless songs about riding the bus in Park City.  The second largest shuttle system in Utah is run by Park City Mountain Resort and is free of charge.  I can hear Wesley singin’ it now, “Free…of…charge!!”

1.  Golden Eagle Award.  The Clif Bar sponsored awards have been handed out each year by the Rusty Gregory chaired National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) for 15 years now.  There are eight categories in all.  The top award last year went to Jiminy Peak for their “Zephyr”.  If you had studied your greek mythology better, you wouldn’t be so afraid of pops or the grade pinned to your shirt, and you’d know that Zephyr is the Greek God of wind.  Jiminy’s Zephyr is their megawatt class wind turbine, standing 253′, 108′ taller than the Statue of Liberty, but only three feet taller than the Grand Buddha at Ling Shan.

top photo of Jiminy Peak’s Zephyr by Robert of Fairfax


Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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