In a press release issued today, Vail Resorts, Inc. has announced an initiative committing to zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat by the year 2030. This sets an important precedent regarding how ski resorts, both large and small, will be expected to operate moving forward.
“The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it,” said chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz. “Through improved business practices, capital investment and continued innovation and environmental stewardship… we are setting a goal of achieving a zero net operating footprint by 2030.”
Following the lead of Whistler Blackcomb, which has been actively monitoring and effectively reducing energy and waste emissions since 2009, and the Aspen Skiing Company, which has been publicizing its sustainability efforts since the late 1990s, Vail Resorts recognizes its enormous role in changing the way ski resorts need to function in the future.
As with any large-scale project, success will begin at the local level. “Vail Resorts is a big company with more than 30,000 employees across three countries,” noted Rob Whittier, director of environmental sustainability for Vail Resorts. “We’re counting on those employees to take ownership of this commitment because it’s their decisions and actions each and every day that will get us to zero.”
Investing $25 million toward energy-saving projects such as low-energy snowmaking equipment, green building design and construction and more efficient grooming practices will help guide Vail’s bigger-picture objective. Diverting waste sent to landfills will be mainly influenced by improved recycling and composting programs at individual resorts, as well as collaboration with local vendors to reduce packaging and source more sustainable materials for their goods.
Reducing operating impact on forests and wildlife to zero might prove to be a more difficult task, yet Vail Resorts has committed to “planting or restoring an acre of forest for every acre… displaced by the Company’s operations.” The company will also continue to fund new and existing partnerships with local organizations focused on the health of forests, habitat and wildlife, hoping to ensure the protection of these beautiful natural spaces for generations to-come.
Vail Resort’s “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” is an exciting proposal, yet it will require participation from everyone involved—senior administration, seasonal workers, guests of the resort, etc. to ensure its success. Start by bringing your own reusable water bottle to the mountain, by picking up that piece of trash on the ground or packing your own lunch to reduce waste.
For more information, you can read the original press release from July 25, 2017, or visit Vail’s Epic Promise website for more detailed descriptions of how operations will change over the next 13 years.