MT. CRESTED BUTTE, CO. — Earth Day is quickly approaching and Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) has taken inventory of its past and current environmental efforts, providing a comprehensive overview of their progress. With initiatives including the development of partnerships to educate guests, work with the Office for Resource Efficiency (ORE) to analyze and control carbon emissions, enhanced recycling efforts, and contributions to local land preservation efforts, CBMR is working hard to make a positive impact in the Rockys and on the earth. Below is an update on CBMR’s ongoing environmental efforts:
CBMR completed a full energy inventory of its Mountain Operations in 2008. The inventory included lifts, snowmaking, facilities and vehicles. Crested Butte is one of two Colorado ski areas listed as charter members of the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge and has set a goal to reduce its overall energy consumption by 2% per year. Since 2008, CBMR has reduced through conservation and management electrical use by 17.15%, fuels by 28.5%, natural gas consumption by 47.2% and 8.3% less water pumped; well exceeding expected goals. Part of this reduction resulted from relocating the resort’s park and pipe to a new area of the mountain that requires less energy to pump water and air. The additional reduction resulted from an investment in new Low Energy HKD snow guns that were awarded to CBMR as part of the 2010 Sustainable Slopes program. CBMR also has a sophisticated tracking system for peak energy loads. When temperatures dip below 15 degrees, employees shut off the compressed air on the tower and just run water, saving large amounts of energy.
The towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte were some the first resort towns in Colorado to implement a free and convenient community wide bus system. Additionally, buses are painted by celebrated local artists to reflect the town’s funkiness. In 2007, the program has added a valley-wide bus system from Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the Town of Crested Butte, Crested Butte South and Gunnison.
In 2009, CBMR worked with the Mt. Crested Butte Downtown Development Authority to acquire two electric shuttles to transport guests from the main resort parking lot to the center of the resort base area. Each shuttle hold 12 guests and has a rack in the back to carry ski and snowboard equipment. The electric shuttles provide a positive arrival experience for visitors, while operating without carbon emissions.
In addition, CBMR received a $5,000 grant in 2010 from Clif Bar to purchase an electric bike for its Property Management department, which has reduced the need for additional vehicle trips for simple errands around the resort.
Recycling and Product Purchasing:
CBMR recycled over 50% of solid waste products in 2010, with a goal to recycle over 65% in 2011. Additionally, the resort uses Green Seal Products in its operations and lodging divisions as part of the Green Purchasing Program.
Instead of throwing renewable energy darts at being green, CBMR has taken the enormous first step of calculating its carbon footprint and creating an emissions inventory. CBMR is one of 13 charter Colorado business members participating in the Governor’s Industrial Energy Challenge and has committed to reducing total energy use for Mountain Operations by 8% from 2008 to 2015. Crested Butte works with the local energy office – The Office for Resource Efficiency, or ORE -to enact its four-step systematic and measurable framework for solutions to climate change – “CROP” (C-Calculate, R-Reduce, O-Offset, P-Produce clean power). While solar power often gets the glamour, energy efficiency is more cost-effective and also reduces carbon emissions much more effectively.
The resort’s relationship with ORE is one of the longer standing relationships in the ski/energy industry and, as a result, CBMR is ahead of most resorts when committing, analyzing and making an actual difference to reducing its carbon footprint. CBMR has reduced its GHG emissions from 6,631 metric tons of CO2e in 2005 to 5,974 tons; a reduction of over 11%.
CBMR has contributed almost $90,000 to local land preservation through 1% for Open Space, since signing up for the program. 1% for Open Space has helped to preserve over 4,500 acres in Gunnison County. The program began in 1997 and has since collected over $1.7 million to preserve lands in the Gunnison Valley for recreation, access to wilderness areas, ranching, animal habitats, and biological studies. It is the oldest, most established, and most successful open space collection program in the country.
Just one example of CBMR’s ongoing efforts to educate resort guests, employees and local residents, the resort teamed up with Evol Burritos for the inaugural FestEVOL concert in March. FestEVOL is a unique lifestyle experience combining mountain sports, live music, innovative natural brands and a sustainably focused “eco village” to help keep the event green. CBMR partnered with IZStyle and Reverb to make this vision a reality. Reverb specifically provides comprehensive, custom greening programs for music tours while conducting grassroots outreach and education with fans around the globe. Over 4,500 skiers and 1,000 concert fans were at the resort to experience O.A.R., DJ Logic, and the Pete Kilpatrick band, spreading the message of environmental sustainability along the way.