Vail Resorts is one of the largest mountain resort companies in the world--operating ten mountain resorts and three urban ski areas. Vail Resorts is responsible for more than 40,000 acres of national and state forest. Vail Resorts' CEO Rob Katz has said, "The environment is our business, we have a special obligation to protect it." As a result, Vail Resorts established an audacious goal they call their "epic promise."
Zero net emissions by 2030.
Zero waste to landfill by 2030.
Zero net operating impact to forest and habitat.
The plan is to double down on energy efficiency, pursue 100 percent renewable energy resources and invest in programs that give back to the land. Zero waste to landfill will be accomplished by focusing on recycling and composting, sourcing vendors committed to environmental sustainability and working with local communities to reuse and reduce. Vail Resorts actively partners with organizations in local communities to best protect the habitat in that locality. Catering to the specific needs of each habitat enhances awareness of how best to sustain environmental health for vegetation and native species.
Each mountain resort owned and operated by Vail Resorts has committed to this promise for a zero footprint.
The Project Zero Pledge encourages employees to think about and plan how they might best contribute to Vail Resorts race to zero. By taking the pledge employees demonstrate their commitment to help Vail Resorts achieve these ambitious goals.
Since starting in 2016, the EpicPromise Foundation commits to offering $750,000 each year to Vail Resort employees in need of emergency relief and educational grants. In addition to grant money, the foundation organizes community workshops for trail maintenance, habitat restoration, wildfire reduction, tree planting, river repair and treating forest acreage for invasive species.
The Fitzsimmons Renewable Energy Project is situated in the heart of Whistler Blackcomb by the Fitzsimmons River. Whistler Blackcomb’s greatest opportunity for renewable energy is a micro hydro project, located under the Peak 2 Peak gondola. Micro hydro power is ideal for Whistler Blackcomb’s habitat because of their abundance of water flow and intense vertical drop. It requires no powerlines and no extraction of undisturbed lands. The project is estimated to return back to the grid an equal amount of energy the resort uses. This is estimated at 32 Gigawatt hours of electricity per year, equivalent to powering 4000 homes.
Vail Resorts primary strategy for Zero Net Emissions is to reduce electric and natural gas consumption another 15 percent by 2030. To accomplish this, the resort has committed $25 million to projects in three key business areas: snow making, buildings and lifts and transportation.
Forty percent of Vail Resorts' snowmaking guns are low energy models that require less compressed air. This energy reduction was due primarily to technological advancements combined with greater awareness of climate impacts, and increased knowledge of local resources. These energy savings were realized without sacrificing the optimal fluffy white powder guests have come to expect at Vail Resorts.
Buildings at Vail, Beaver Creek and Heavenly are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified promoting a market transformation towards sustainability. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technology explore the principals of thermodynamics; fluid mechanics and heat transfer to control energy consumption while maintaining energy optimization. The switch to greater LED lighting in buildings, lifts and parking garages also contributes to achieving the zero net emissions goal.
Motorized vehicle use is limited at the mountain resorts all year. In the summer time, the mountains transition from ski runs to trails for hiking and biking. Limiting motor vehicle access encourages employees and visitors to walk, hike and bike short distances enabling an exploration of the mountain.
A Gold Certified Colorado Environmental Leader makes Walking Mountains Science Center the most active non-profit in Eagle County for everything outdoors, sustainability and education. Many local businesses partner with Walking Mountains to seek “actively green” certification. In combination with their educational programs and workshops, Walking Mountains is committed to promoting the outdoors and the many ways knowledge of the local habitat can increase the drive for sustainable efforts.
Eagle County Animal Shelter located in Eagle Colorado is a no kill shelter committed to providing care to stray animals in need while also promoting safe and responsible pet ownership in the Vail Valley. Recently, this shelter has made the move to becoming “actively green” following in the footsteps of their main campus. One of their biggest goals is switching to renewable energy with the installation of solar panels. At the moment, the shelter is focusing on accessible green initiatives such as composting, creating airtight seals and employee engagement within the community.
The Vail Valley's only independent bookstore is the perfect place to grab a good read, eat some delicious lunch and enjoy the serenity of the Eagle River. Additionally, The Bookworm in Edwards also supports local authors. In 2016 The Bookworm was certified as actively green by local non-profit Walking Mountains Science Center for their attention to detail when recycling, sourcing compostable products and encouraging their team to bike, walk or carpool to work.
The only live television broadcaster in the Vail Valley and a division of Vail Resorts, TV8 Vail with its staff of 30 employees has committed to pursue the EpicPromise goals on a more personalized level. The crew at TV8 started a composting program that will reduce food and paper waste almost completely. By connecting with Vail Honey Wagon to become a member of their composting program, TV8 Vail is supporting a local business while helping the environment.
Follow us on Instagram at @tv8vailcolorado and use hashtag #VailTV8 to share pictures or videos of how you are setting your sights on zero!
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