Vermont resorts focused on "green skiing"
10/09/07 8:05AM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) Vermont ski resorts are hoping cold weather is on its way as they look beyond fall foliage to the start of winter.
But they also know that global climate change could threaten their industry.
So, as VPR's Ross Sneyd reports, they're trying to do reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
(Sneyd) "Green skiing'' is fast becoming all the rage in the Green Mountains.
Resorts are using bio-diesel, efficient lighting and new chairlift motors that draw less electricity. Some resorts are recapturing the heat generated by snowmaking compressors and using it to warm lodges and other buildings.
Now, resort operators are turning their attention - and their savvy marketing skills - to reducing their "carbon footprints.''
That's the measure of how much carbon dioxide their operations create by consuming electricity, heating fuel and the gasoline used by guests driving to the resorts.
Middlebury College's Snow Bowl pioneered the idea of going carbon neutral in all its operations.
Peter Mackey is general manager of the Snow Bowl. He says offsetting the ski area's emissions was the idea of students and members of the ski team. But he says it's also good business.
(Mackey) Our industry is probably as closely impacted by global warming as any. So it behooves us to be as efficient and reduce our emissions as much as possible.
(Sneyd) The Snow Bowl became the only ski area in the country last season to go carbon neutral.
Mackey worked with a company called Native Energy in Charlotte. Native Energy calculated how much carbon was released by the activities at the Snow Bowl.
Then, it figured that the Snow Bowl could offset that carbon by investing seven-thousand dollars in two renewable energy projects.
Mad River Glen in Fayston plans to become the second resort to adopt a similar policy this winter.
Mad River will invest 35-hundred dollars in methane projects at Vermont farms to offset the carbon created to heat the resort's buildings, power its lifts and run its snow machines.
Skiers also are being challenged to cover the carbon cost of driving to the slopes.
They're being given the option of chipping in between a dollar and ten dollars extra on lift tickets and season passes.
That money will go toward renewable energy, too.
Mad River's Eric Friedman says the initiative is a matter of survival.
(Friedman) This whole issue is one that's near and dear to us because we are dependent on natural snow. We have a grand total of two snow guns. We don't have the snowmaking capabilities that other ski areas have. So the global warming issue really hits home for us.
(Sneyd) No other ski resorts have gone as far as Middlebury or Mad River have in covering the environmental costs of all their operations.
But many are investing in renewable energy to cover the amount of electricity they consume.
The National Ski Areas Association says Middlebury, Okemo and Stratton cover 100 percent of their energy costs with renewable energy investments.
Smugglers' Notch and Sugarbush make similar investments, but haven't reached 100 percent, yet.
For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.
AP Photo/Toby Talbot