Ski Resorts Express Spirit Of Collaboration On Climate Change Action

Oct 3, 2019

Kate Wilson from Vail presents the organization's sustainability strategy
Credit KPCW Radio

Representatives from the nation’s largest ski resort companies explained what their organizations are doing to reduce their environmental impact at the Mountain Towns 2030 conference Wednesday. 

Vail Resorts Sustainability Director Kate Wilson says the organization set a resort-wide goal in 2017 to be net-zero carbon by 2030. That includes zero net emissions, zero waste to landfills and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat. Vail acquired Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Village in 2014.

Wilson says the resorts have made progress on those individual goals. For example, Vail is bringing a new wind farm onto the power grid and has worked with Colorado electricity utility Xcel on a renewable energy partnership. In terms of waste, Vail has reduced single-use items, and some of their resorts have a composting program. And Wilson says Vail is on track to plant and restore every acre of forest displaced by its operations by 2030.

David Perry is the vice president for sustainability at Alterra, the owner of Deer Valley Resort. Perry says Alterra has not made the kind of progress Vail has on sustainability goals—mostly because, until two years ago, Alterra didn’t exist. As a resort operator, Perry says Alterra has recently established a sustainability platform: to “green” their own resorts through sustainable projects and initiatives; build a voice among employees, guests, resort communities and stakeholders around sustainability; and to advocate for policies at the state and federal levels.

Stephen Kircher of Boyne Resorts and Laura Schaffer from POWDR joined Perry and Wilson on the panel.

One member of the POWDR team, Woodward Park City Food and Beverage Director Chris Liu, sat in the audience for the panel. He says POWDR has a goal to be at the same levels of waste the Gorgoza Tubing Park was—even with the new Woodward facility—by 2025.

“Everything from responsible sourcing, to partnering with a local composter in the form of Wild Harvest Farms, all the way to how we deal with our waste, not only from a food and beverage perspective but just as a company as a whole,” Liu said.

Although they’re competitors, the panelists agreed on the importance of sharing strategies to reduce their carbon footprints, saying climate change isn’t something they can each tackle on their own.