Ski Resorts Get Creative to Battle Global Warming
LAKEWOOD, Colorado, February 20, 2003 (ENS) - The ski resort industry is at risk from global warming as glaciers melt and snowfalls diminish. But the industry has recognized the danger and is taking steps to limit its own emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Ski lifts are powered by the wind, energy efficient building techniques are in use, and resort vehicles are running on alternative fuels.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), the trade association for ski area owners and operators, started an environmental program in June 2000 when 130 winter resorts adopted an environmental charter to voluntarily reduce their environmental impacts. This season the association has adopted a new climate change policy to address global warming. On Saturday, dubbed Sustainable Slopes Outreach Day, resorts will showcase the efforts they are making to reduce carbon dioxide and other heat trapping greenhouse gases.
Skiers and snowboarders will have a chance to sign up for global warming solutions of their own. "For diehard skiers and snowboarders, winter is already too short," said NSAA's president, Michael Berry. "The ski business depends on snow and we view global warming as a long term concern. We are doing our part to help fix the problem, and we're giving our guests an opportunity to join in the fight."
As part of the solution, NSAA ski resorts across the country have partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national environmental organization based in Washington, DC, in a new campaign - Keep Winter Cool - to highlight the impact of global warming on winter recreation.
"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."
One retail electricity company is taking part in the Keep Winter Cool solution. Green Mountain Energy Company has purchased enough windpower to run the main chair lifts of five ski resorts for the day. The 18,000 kilowatt-hours of wind energy will offset more than 10 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the five ski areas - three in New York: Gore Mountain, Holiday Valley, and Peek 'n Peak, and two in Oregon: Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood Meadows.
On Saturday, representatives from Green Mountain Energy will be present at seven ski areas - Gore Mountain, Greek Peak, Holiday Valley, Peek 'n Peak and Whiteface in New York and Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon - to help resort guests purchase wind power for their homes.
"Making electricity emits billions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution into the air annually," said Thomas Rawls, CEO of Green Mountain Energy Company. "Many people don't know about this serious threat to our environment and we're excited about the opportunity to educate skiers across the nation. We hope our efforts will have a snowball effect on building support for cleaner energy sources like wind power."
Mt. Hood Meadows 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, Oregon and the resort produces 140 pounds of carbon dioxide. The purchase of a $2 Mini-Green Tag allows guests to offset those emissions.
In Wyoming, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort president Jerry Blann serves as NSAA Environmental Committee chairperson. The resort purchases wind energy to power two of its chairlifts - Moose Creek and Union Pass. Jackson Hole is planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide as an offset to business air travel. The resort is testing less polluting ethanol and biodiesel fuel in summer vehicles, and purchasing bus passes for all employees and all season pass holders to encourage the use of mass transportation.
On Saturday, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will contribute a percentage from each lift ticket purchased at the ticket window to the local chapter of The Wyoming Nature Conservancy for a pond restoration project. An information booth showcasing the work of local environmental groups will be set up in the resort's base area.
In California, Mammoth Mountain Resort is beginning to use solar heating for lift shacks. Mammoth recently installed a solar heating panel on the lift shack at the top of Thunder Bound Express and plans to install solar panels on more lift shacks within the next month.
On Saturday, Mammoth will announce the 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 transportation buses. If successful, Northstar plans to run its entire transportation fleet on biodiesel, a cleaner burning diesel fuel made from renewable sources such as vegetable oils.
Sierra-at-Tahoe will showcase the solar power that operates its Grandview Bar & Grill. Anyone who drives a hybrid car to this resort gets free preferred parking for the day.
California's Alpine Meadows resort will focus on local environmental issues, presenting speakers from the Tahoe Rim Trail, the U.S. Forest Service, the Truckee River Watershed Council, and the National Weather Service to address global warming. Sunfirst!, a solar power company, will give an interactive presentation on solar power. Ski and snowboard eco-tours will be conducted, with the inaugural tour scheduled on Saturday to mark Sustainable Slopes Day.
Alpine Meadows currently uses biodiesel fuel in its snow grooming machines and transportation buses. A transit bus that runs on bio-diesel fuel will be on display for guests on Saturday.
In Colorado, Keystone Resort purchases 16,500 kilowatt-hours of wind power per month, the maximum amount available from the local utility. Keystone's River Run Information Center features natural lighting 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.
Skicarpool.com, a new website launched in Colorado to facilitate carpooling to ski resorts, will join in Vail Mountain's outreach efforts on Saturday.
Aspen Skiing Company purchases wind energy to power the Cirque Lift at Snowmass and the Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain. Aspen Skiing is offering free parking all season to guests driving low pollution hybrid vehicles, such as gasoline-electric hybrid cars that cut CO2 emissions in half and do not need plugging in. On Saturday, Aspen will display a Toyota Prius hybrid at the base of Snowmass and provide information on the environmental benefits of hybrid-electric cars.
On Saturday, Colorado's Winter Park Resort will feature an interactive display of its AreaNET program, an integrated computer program designed by the resort's electricians. The program saves energy by managing electrical power consumption at the resort for maximum efficiency. Every killowatt-hour saved is that much less coal, oil or gas that must be burned, a saving of money and greenhouse gas emissions.
Also in Colorado, the NRDC will help staff environmental information booths on Saturday at Keystone and Telluride resorts.
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 installed dozens of energy efficient snowmaking tower guns which reduce the energy needed to pump water and compressed air to make snow. Mount Snow re-uses energy, using heat extracted from snowmaking compressor systems to heat its Main Base Lodge and Clocktower buildings.
Killington Resort in Vermont will offset all vehicle emissions from its guests on Saturday. The resort expects about 4,000 cars and several buses at the resort that day, resulting in about 500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Killington is partnering with Clean Commodities, Inc. to give away "title" to 500 tons of carbon dioxide emission reductions to skiers and boarders on Saturday. Clean Commodities purchased the emission reduction rights from a renewable energy power producer.
Keeping winter cooler by cutting greenhouse gas emissions may save their businesses as these resorts battle droughts, less snow falling on their mountains and earlier springtimes brought on by global warming.
The National Ski Areas Association is online at: http://www.nsaa.org
The Natural Resources Defense Council is found at: http://www.nrcd.org
Log on to Green Mountain Energy Company at: http://www.greenmountain.com/index.jsp
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