5 Ski Slopes That Are Going Green

The Ski Club of Great Britain lists ski resorts around the world and is a good source to check out their ‘green factor’. Over the past two decades, increasing awareness of the problems of climate change and concern about the environment have encouraged many resorts to be proactive in going green.

1 Whistler, Canada

Whistler Blackcomb sets high standards on being green. Working on energy conservation, this has led to annual savings of 11% on consumption. Big on waste reduction and recycling, the restaurant composts its waste and minimises packaging and materials, reusing and recycling as much as possible.

Whistler Blackcomb has a ‘Mountain Materials Exchange’ where staff send items they no longer use like ski equipment, office equipment, furniture and clothing, that then can be used by other members of staff or is donated to charities.

Environmental Coordinators help 2,000 staff members make the company’s operations more sustainable. Over 3,000 guests have participated in bear and ecology tours. The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation raises funds to support social projects including environmental initiatives. The bulk of funds come from staff donating from their wages which is matched by the Foundation.

Black Tusk as seen from Whistler Mountain in March, 2007 (Dylan DiLecce 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Tusk-_March,_2007.jpg)

2 Aspen, United States of America

Aspen ticks all the boxes and has taken many green initiatives such as committing to renewable energy, building the largest solar photovoltaic system in the ski industry. It has established an Environment Foundation and over a million dollars has been given to local environmental causes. It tries to spread the word on climate change and has developed the ski industry’s first climate policy. As well as fuelling all of its snowcats with biodiesel, it has built a small hydro-electric plant. The contradiction is that although Aspen is an active campaigner against climate change, it is building a huge development at one of its resorts (“in a green way”), to finance this though it needs to attract a lot of tourists to fill the abundance of hotel rooms.

Consider booking car rental online in advance to explore the surrounding area of Aspen. Local towns include Boulder and Leadville. Visitors to the area could visit the breataking Grand Lake and the city of Denver is also well worth a visit.

3 Méribel, France

Since the Olympic games in 1992, Méribel has financed a free shuttle bus system that everyone can use. The resort also has built the first of its kind in France, a 20 mile network of winter pedestrian trails that connect the various resort areas. Coupled with pavements in built-up areas and lower lift pass rates for pedestrians, it is possible to walk over both valleys of Courchevel and Méribel with the help of one of the world’s most extensive network of inter-linked gondolas and cable cars.

Recycling is mandatory in the resort and strict architectural rules have been enforced since the resort started in 1938. Only chalets of stone, wood and slate can be built up to a maximum height of ten metres or 19 metres for apartment buildings and hotels.

Méribel’s re-seeding policy after the snow melts includes choosing grasses favoured by the resort’s and visiting cows. These “natural lawn mowers” mean the grass is shorter at the beginning of the winter, so there is less danger of avalanche and safer skiing even with a lower snow dump. Piste cleaning parties are encouraged after the end of the season with help of local organisations.

 

Méribel, France,  (Brice 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:131-3116_IMG.JPG)

4 Davos, Switzerland

Davos is committed to protecting the climate and meeting the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. The threat of global warming is close to the hearts of the local people and the community has set itself a target of slashing CO2 emissions by over 15 percent by 2014. A private biogas plant now provides 200,000 kilowatt-hours of power generated by biogas. Renewable power sources (terrestrial heat, fermentation gas, wood and solar) are a key focus of the local community and resort.

Waste management and recycling is a priority. Glass, paper, cardboard and tinplate are collected and recycled, as well as batteries and special refuse.

Public transport and reduction of harmful emissions, waste reduction information campaigns and a green building policy have helped to make Davos go greener.

5 Zell am See, Austria

A free ski bus service connects the resorts in the valley with the ski lifts. Every year grass and trees are planted, using eco friendly techniques. Zell am See boasts being the first ISO Certified Lift Company in Austria. The Austrian Cable Car Industry is one of the most tightly legislated of all and the “cable car act” of 2003 ensures each and every cable car operator uses sustainable and effective methods to cause minimum impact to the surrounding environment.

The resort uses renewable energy, including generating heat through the use of heat exchangers and solar energy systems.

Austria prides itself on having no purpose-built ski resorts. Each village has been developed over time for the benefit and enjoyment of local communities as well as to attract winter tourism.

Image Credits: Wikipedia1 and Wikipedia2.

In 1991, eight countries (Germany, Austria, France, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Slovenia) signed the “Alpine Convention” to protect and limit the sustainable development of the Alps. It aims to prevent damage to the Alpine environment by harmonising economic and environmental interests.

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