Even though the calendar displays spring, a lot of us aren’t ready to hit the beach just yet. In fact, we’re still hitting the slopes. Is it possible to think sustainably when we strap on our bindings? There’s no way around the fact that snowboarding and skiing (much like golf) aren’t sustainable but the world just can’t wipe out all the ski resorts. So we decided to check out the sustainability of some resorts.
Kirkwood, sits in a remote area of South Lake Tahoe, where people like the no-frills, laid back atmosphere but about their sustainability? To their credit their recently implemented a carpool network (the first in the region) that allows members to connect with other like-minded skiers and riders. Kirkwood’s “K-pool” saved about 13% in driven vehicles during one of their busiest days and takes hundred of cars off the road each week. Other resorts have picked up on the idea and will implement a similar system next season.
The fact that Kirkwood sits outside any regional power grid offers energy challenges. Thankfully, they haven’t resorted to purchasing those not so green RECs; instead they purchase a small amount of energy directly from local homeowners’ solar panels. Unfortunately, they must rely heavily on diesel (and even though they have purchased more efficient Tier 2 Engines) they still remain diesel based. The thought of all that diesel doesn’t exactly make us warm and fuzzy.
Kirkwood put together a comprehensive recycling program but we would like to see something more out of the box. Maybe they can add some alt fueled snowcats or the like. We understand that biodiesal freezes at around five degrees so maybe there is some other solution. And even though the resort region contains relatively few condos and commercial structures, the new ones currently being constructed lack any Green focus (such as LEED or Green Point Rated). It’s not much to ask to swap out the bathroom paper towels and urinals for the much greener XLerator Electric Hand Dryer and McDry Non-Water-Using Urinal options.
We like most of the blue slopes as well as some choice black diamond runs but Kirkwood needs to catch up with us as their sustainability effort currently resides on the bunny slopes.