Aspen represents one of the great challenges of climate change for ski resorts and the whole of mankind.
Aspen Skiing Company – which operates the lifts, is one of the world’s great beacons in the battle against climate change, going further than most other ski resorts to cut its CO2 emissions, even reaching a stage where it cuts more CO2 than it puts out and campaigning to the US government to make stronger moves to fight climate change nationally and internationally.
But set against this the wonderful City of Aspen beneath the slopes is a magnet for the world’s rich and famous, who tend to arrive in private jets and stay in large properties, generating large volumes of CO2 per person in most cases in the process – unless they make great personal efforts themselves to cut their own very hefty carbon footprints.
Generating More Carbon Negative Electricity Than The Ski Area Consumes
The Aspen Skiing Company has partnered with the Elk Creek coal mine, Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Coal Gas on a $5.5 million investment to capture waste methane vented from a coal mine in neighboring Somerset, Colorado to generate carbon negative electricity
Aspen Skiing Company was the first American ski resort to achieve the prestigious international third-party certification for environmental management – ISO 14001. This means ASC meets strict standards for continuous improvement in the management of its environmental impacts. “ISO 14001 was a necessary next step for Aspen Skiing Company,” says ASC President/CEO Pat O’Donnell. “We have become very good at project-level environmental work, but we became concerned that we weren’t necessarily creating systemic change within the organization. ISO is the best way to integrate environmental management company wide.”
Aspen’s Environmental Programs Have Received International Recognition
- 2004 Ranked #1 Eco-Ski Resort in North America by Plenty Magazine.
- 2004 ASC Achieves ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification
- 2004 Jewelplace Award for Skiing and Snowboarding
- 2004 Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence in the Ski Industry
- 2004 Colorado Ethics in Business Award
- 2004 American Hotel and Lodging Association Stars of the Industry Enviro-Management Award, Snowmass Club
- Four time recipient of the Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence in the Ski Industry (2004, 2001, 1999, 1998)
- 1999 British Airways “Tourism for Tomorrow” Global Award for Eco-Tourism. (more info)
- 2001 Recongnized in congress by Reps. Diana DeGette and Mark Udall
- 2000 Travel Industry Association of American Odyssey Award
- National Geographic Traveler BEST Practices Company
- Colorado Pollution Prevention Champion 2001, and many, many more.
Building Sustainable Resorts
Aspen developed a protocol called “Building Sustainable Resorts.” It is a policy that makes developments more environmentally sensitive, healthy, and resource efficient. For example, the Guidelines suggest ways to use water, energy, lumber, and other resources more efficiently. The protocol currently is being implemented at the Snowmass Lodge and Club redevelopment. Quantitative results of applying the Guidelines will be measured over time.
Contractors, designers, and consultants for new developments in Aspen are screened for environmental credentials through a request for Qualifications (RFQ). Then the resort holds a scoping meeting with stakeholders once the team is selected but before fee negotiations. In this meeting, whole-system thinking is integrated into decision making. The use of computer modeling, ongoing meetings, and a post-occupancy evaluation are all components of this process.
Aspen Skiing Company was the first resort in the ski/snowboard industry to announce a policy to protect the climate. Way back when, they drove support for the McCain Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. The ski artea is an active campaigner on the environment, giving its savewsnopw.com web domain to support Protect Our Winters group.
The Sundeck restaurant was one of the first eleven buildings in the world to be certified through the US Green Building Council’s “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) program.
A second LEED (silver) building: the Snowmass Golf Clubhouse is heated and cooled by a pond and features 100% wind power, sustainably harvested wood, recycled carpet, and dual flush toilets.
Aspen uses a blend of clean, renewable Blue Sun biodiesel in all its snowcats. They burn 260,000 gallons of diesel annually.
Established in 1998, the Environment Foundation is structured like no other organization in the country. It is a model for how corporate America, which takes from the land, can give back, by protecting natural resources. The foundation has donated large sums to environmental causes in the Roaring Fork Valley.