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Our BatchGeo world MAP shows the locations of green architecture, green building and renewable energy projects featured on Solaripedia.

Project

Greening Our White Ski Resorts

Source

As ski season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, many resorts continue to find ways to offer more sustainable approaches to one of the favorite outdoor sports. While none is generating 100 percent of its own renewable energy, many are either generating some of their own power or purchasing renewable energy from utilities. According to a report by the National Geographic Society, at least 22 US ski resorts in seven states use wind power credits to supply 100 percent of their electricity use. Sustainable ski programs help you find and select “green” resorts, and provide listings of the sustainable attributes, including efforts in solar and wind power, transportation, water conservation and protection, vegetation and wildlife conservation, and energy efficiency.

 

St Moritz Solar Powered Cable Car

Solar powered: The Piz Nai cable car in St Moritz ©2009 St Moritz

Aspen’s Cirque Lift Powered by Wind
When Aspen decided to construct a new ski lift above treeline, construction was completed without bulldozers or mechanized ground equipment touching the fragile tundra. Crews hauled all supplies on foot, sometimes making seven trips a day up 750 vertical feet while carrying 50 pounds of equipment, always by separate paths to avoid creating trails. Stopping construction during critical mating and nesting periods protected ptarmigan, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, and other wildlife. Absolutely no sign of construction, outside of the lift poles themselves, was left on the tundra. Heavy items such as poles and concrete were delivered by helicopter. We hope that this construction will be a model for the ski industry, revealing that resorts don't have to destroy alpine environments to build lifts.

Planners opted for a simple platter pull rather than a high speed multiple passenger lift to minimize visual impact and limit user numbers. A wildlife specialist helped minimize impacts to wildlife during construction. During April and early May, when snow still covered the area, backhoes were taken across the snow to dig the 6-foot holes for the tower footings. Moving the equipment on the snow protected delicate tundra and minimized disruptions to wildlife. After digging, crews covered the holes and left the area for three months while the snow melted. This allowed ptarmigan, sheep, mountain goats, and elk to migrate, mate, and rear their young in peace. Crews then returned in August, on foot, to prepare the footings and pour concrete.

Powering Aspen's Cirque Ski Lift
Aspen Ski Company has been a driver in developing Colorado’s wind and solar resources. The Cirque Lift, dedicated in honor of the late John Denver, was the state's first wind powered lift, using clean, renewable, wind-generated electricity purchased from Ponnequin Wind Farm in northern Colorado. Aspen purchases the wind power from Public Service of Colorado at a premium cost to help reduce pollution, acid rain, and global warming, all factors that directly affect the skiing industry. Because it is wind-powered, the Cirque lift provides environmental benefits equivalent to not driving a car 95,000 miles or planting 17 acres of trees. Running the lift on wind power is keeping 40,000 pounds of coal in the ground, and 82,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The Cirque Lift's sensitive construction and renewable power source makes it one of the most environmentally sensitive ski lifts in America.

Aspen has also been a leader in constructing its buildings to meet environmental standards. Its Snowmass Golf Clubhouse utilizes groundsource heating and cooling by using pondwater that remains a constant 58 degrees F. year round. That means that in the winter, they tap the relative heat of the water to warm interior spaces, and in the summer, they can tap the relative "coolth" to cool buildings. These systems are up to five times more efficient than standard heating and cooling systems. This clubhouse beats local energy codes by more than 60 percent. The building also features a roof with an insulation rating of 55.5 (a typical home's roof has a rating of 37); certified sustainably harvested wood in both building structure and cabinets; recycled and recyclable carpet; 100% wind power; radon control; low VOC paints and sealants; super efficient showerheads, and toilets with a low and high volume flush option (so that the whole building beats water efficiency codes by 30%); and much, much more.

Other USA Ski Areas Set Examples for Renewables
California’s Mammoth Mountain is using solar power to generate electricity and forced air heating in its lift shacks. Mammoth has installed solar heating panels on the lift shack at the top of Thunder Bound Express and in other small, outlying buildings as well.

Crystal Mountain in Washington State participates in the Ski Green program through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Northstar-at-Tahoe (Northstar) is offsetting approximately 215,600 pounds of global warming emissions associated with the ski area’s electrical energy use through a substantial purchase of Green Tags (also known as Tradable Renewable Energy Credits) from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Northstar’s Green Tags purchase represents over 150 megawatt-hours of renewable energy produced from non-polluting wind resources located in the Pacific Northwest, equivalent to the annual electricity used by about 180 homes.

Hunter Mountain in New York is purchasing enough Wind Energy Credits to power Hunter's Learning Center for the entire ski season. Purchased through Community Energy, Hunter's 33,000 square-foot beginners and family Learning Center will be completely wind-powered during the winter ski season.

In Oregon, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort will purchase enough clean, renewable wind energy to run its Shooting Star Express chairlift.

Timberline is a purchaser of Clean Wind™ from PGE, the local power provider.

In Utah, The Canyons is using solar powered lighting. The Canyons, Deer Valley and Park City are all participating in Utah Power's Blue Sky Program and are purchasing green wind power for their operations.

In Wyoming, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort powers two of its chairlifts, Moose Creek and Union Pass, with wind power.

In Colorado, Keystone Resort purchases 16,500 kilowatt-hours of renewable wind power per month, the maximum amount available from the local utility. The resort's River Run Information Center is powered by a solar energy system and relies heavily on natural light rather than electric lights during the day.

Vail Mountain buys 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year of wind energy to power the Wildwood Express Lift, eliminating 300 tons of global warming pollution.

Meanwhile in Europe…..

GREEN SKI LIFT in Tirol, Austria

A globally innovative solar powered conveyor belt and T-bar opened for the winter 2008/9 ski season, transporting skiers and boarders from near Brixen swimming lake up to a new 8-seater cableway, the "SkiWelt – Kitzbüheler Alpen", to join up with the 4.5kmrun back down. The ski tow is powered by a photovolatic system, with the name "Sonnenlift", and even in poor weather the system has enough power to keep the lift running smoothly.

GREEN MOUNTAIN RESTAURANTS
The Sunnalm mountain restaurant in the Rifflsee (Pitztal) skiing area is the highest passive energy building in the Alps. It is built next to the top stage of the Rifflsee cableway, 2300m above sea level, and uses seven deep borings, 120 m into the ground, to tap geothermal energy, saving around 37,000 litres of oil annually. A combination of solar and geothermal technology enables fossil fuels to be dispensed with entirely. The restaurant, which is constructed mainly of wood and glass, is open for 135 days in winter and 100 days in summer. (www.pitztal.com).

The Alpenhaus Idalpe in Ischgl has saved some 10,000 litres of oil annually since the 250 sq. m. solar system was installed with the new building in 2006 (www.ischgl.com).

The Masner mountain restaurant in Serfaus, which serves up to 2,000 people during busy times, uses a solar system for its hot water supply. Together with a ventilation system, it is also used for heat recovery (www.serfaus-fiss-ladis.at).

GREEN HOTELS
The biohotel Florian in Reith bei Kitzbühel is regarded as one of Austria's eco-tourism pioneers. The hotel relies on wind and solar energy, small hydroelectric plants and biodiesel installations. Milk is supplied in large packs, fruit and vegetables in reusable packaging, cleaning agents and toilet paper bear the Austrian environmental trade mark. Great importance is placed on refuse separation, all the rooms contain separating bins and any waste or packaging remaining after separation is put to reuse. Info: www.hotel-florian.at.

The Hotel Crystal in Obergurgl is the first hotel in Austria to be heated entirely by renewable energy. The 120-bed hotel at an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level does not burn any coal or gas, but is equipped with a heat pump and a 300 sq. m. solar system. In addition 67 geothermal loops provide sufficient energy for the entire hotel and wellness area. Contact: www.hotel-crystal.com.

The Wellness Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Maurach am Achensee boasts a 150 sq. m. solar system for the mains water. In addition the hotel uses solar energy for the indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna, too. Info: www.4jahreszeiten.at.

The Kaiserhotel in Ebbs uses a solar system to generate hot water for the panorama pool and, partially, for the floor heating. Info: www.kaiserhotel.at.

The Hotel Furtherhof in Kirchdorf has managed to reduce its oil consumption by 50 per cent thanks to the installation of a solar system and here too guests are actively encouraged to separate waste. Info: www.furtherwirt.at.

The Alpenhaus Idalpe in Ischgl has saved some 10,000 litres of oil annually since the 250 sq. m. solar system was installed with the new building in 2006 (www.ischgl.com).

The Masner mountain restaurant in Serfaus, which serves up to 2,000 people during busy times, uses a solar system for its hot water supply. Together with a ventilation system, it is also used for heat recovery (www.serfaus-fiss-ladis.at).

GREEN MOUNTAIN HUTS


The Austrian Alpine Club provides awards for environmental standards. The Olpererhütte in the Zillertal has been recognized for its sustainable renovation efforts including its CO2-neutral envelope and a fully biological sewage plant purifies the hut's waste water. A photovoltaic system and rapeseed oil-powered block heating plants produce the necessary energy and hot water.


Documents

  Sustainable Slopes for Ski Areas (1,277 kb)


Resources

Ski Area Environmental Scorecard 2008/2009 (USA)

Ski Green (USA)

Ski Green Guide

Sustainable Slopes for Ski Areas (USA)