Arapahoe Basin Achieves Carbon Neutrality Eight Months Ahead of 2025 Goal

Arapahoe Basin Achieves Carbon Neutrality Eight Months Ahead of 2025 Goal

All Images: Courtesy of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Breaking news out of Summit County, Colorado. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, AKA The Legend, AKA home of Pali Chair, the Center of the Known Universe, has announced it has achieved carbon neutrality eight months ahead of its 2025 goal. For the ski industry and far beyond, this is a fantastic sign that things are moving in the right direction.

For decades, The Basin has prided itself on being an industry leader. Whether you’re talking about customer service, the on-hill food & beverage scene, the fantastic big mountain freeride terrain or sustainability efforts, it really has been at the top of the class. No, Abasin didn’t pay us a dime to say that. It’s just the truth, and this announcement is proof of exactly that.

Solar panels doing their business atop the recently built il Rifugio restaurant. | PHOTO: Tripp Fay

A feat like this certainly does not come about overnight. Arapahoe Basin began this plan a decade ago and announced in 2018 that it would set 2025 as the goal date to achieve carbon neutrality. The final step to reaching net zero was to continually reduce Scope 1 direct greenhouse gas emissions, such as vehicle and heating combustion. On the way to eliminating these emissions completely, they had to be offset through tangible carbon reduction projects. To do so, Arapahoe Basin partnered with Terrapass to create a portfolio of U.S.-based, third-party verified carbon offsets. 

But what does all that language really mean? Carbon neutrality boils down to offsetting the carbon that is being emitted at a one-to-one ratio. Ski resorts can emit a lot of carbon through chairlifts, vehicles, food services and more. But in this case, Arapahoe Basin compensates those emissions by paying to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The press release put out by Arapahoe Basin describes their process as follows:

“Carbon offsets are credits individuals, corporations, or groups can use to compensate for their own emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. Each credit is used to offset one metric ton of CO2 emitted and represents one metric ton of CO2 removed or avoided from the atmosphere from the project source. When employed properly, they serve as a “self-imposed tax” for all emitted carbon and can help incentivize emissions reductions as cost-saving measures.

Over the course of the 2022-23 season, Arapahoe Basin emitted 900 metric tons of CO2 through diesel, propane, and gasoline usage and an additional 50 metric tons through solid waste disposal. The ski area used this number to predict 2023-24 emissions and has preemptively offset 950 metric tons of carbon. A-Basin will reconcile those offsets against actual emissions when 23-24 data is complete, banking extra offsets or purchasing more accordingly.”

While it’s not an end solution, it is a huge step forward and one that, hopefully, more ski resorts will follow. The final goal for The Legend is not far off, either. “After getting to 100 percent renewable electricity last year, and with viable carbon-free systems nearly within our grasp, we now know for sure that our real goal, Net Zero, Carbon-Free Operations, is just over the horizon,” said Arapahoe Basin Sustainability Manager Mike Nathan. “These offsets simply allow us to do some good in the meantime, while the cost of supporting these projects every year financially motivates us to finish the job.”

The base of The Basin. EV chargers, solar panels, carpool incentives and food waste systems are all at work down there. | PHOTO: Courtesy of Arapahoe Basin

We all want more powder days and for future generations to enjoy the life-changing activity of skiing. If we want that reality, there have to be changes. They won’t happen right away, but with time, there is no limit to the positive changes we can see. After all, the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. We can’t let this discourage us. As we are seeing today, very real change can happen.

“A-Basin is committed to being stewards of the White River National Forest so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy it in every season for years to come,” said Alan Henceroth, COO of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. “We are so proud of this accomplishment and are looking towards our next set of sustainability goals for 2025 and beyond to continue being leaders in the industry.”

Click here to read the full Press Release from Arapahoe Basin

Skiers and boarders, unite! A common cause we can all get behind—clean energy and more Pali laps. | PHOTO: Ian Zinner

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