Environment

photo: Matt Crawley
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Environment

photo: Jay Dash
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Snowbird's Green Commitment.

Since its inception, Snowbird has been committed to environmental stewardship, and that commitment continues to grow. Snowbird strives to be an industry leader and understands the necessity to grow the Environmental Programs at the resort. To accomplish this, Snowbird grew our Environmental Programs in 2016 by hiring its first Director to help steer Snowbird in the direction towards meaningful and measureable improvements as a year-round resort.

As a National Ski Area Association Climate Challenge resort, Snowbird is working alongside other ski resorts in the county to collectively address the long-term challenges presented by climate change and continue our commitment to stewardship. We aim to raise awareness of the potential impacts of climate change on our weather-dependant business and the winter recreation experience; reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions; and encourage others to take action as well. We are committed to working toward solutions that will keep both the environment and economy healthy and preserve quality of life.

Snowbird’s Environmental Program goals are to make meaningful and measurable improvements to the following areas: Carbon emissions reductions, Waste reductions, Air quality improvements and Water quality improvements. To accomplish these goals, Snowbird focuses on the following areas: education, advocacy and partnerships. Some recent actions taken to accomplish these goals include the following:

Carbon Emissions Reduction

Fuel:
Snowbird’s new Tier 3 Caterpillar snowcats meet California emission standards and we are currently looking at updating future snowcats to meet Tier 4 standards. Snowbird is currently exploring alternative fuel options, including biodiesel and providing Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging stations for our guests next season.

Waste Reductions

Recycling:
While Snowbird established a resort-wide recycling program for paper, aluminum, plastic and cardboard throughout the four lodges and the Snowbird Center, we have increased our efforts in 2017 to include the rest of the buildings at Snowbird and have introduced glass recycling this summer!

Electricity:
Snowbird’s co-generation power facility in The Cliff Lodge produces 48% of the resort’s power in the winter and 80% in the summer. Exhaust from this plant is converted to steam, which is then piped throughout the resort to heat The Cliff Lodge’s rooms, pools, restaurants and meeting rooms.

Efforts recently initiated include company-wide replacement of energy-wasting light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs and heater upgrades that significantly reduce electricity consumption. The Snowbird Center lighting project replaced old incandescent bulbs and T12 fluorescent fixtures with new CFLs and premium T8s cutting power consumption by 67%.

Snowbird implemented motor upgrades and controls for building heaters that reduce electricity consumption by 1,460,500 kilowatt hours per year. Snowbird continues its partnership with Rocky Mountain Power to reduce electrical consumption throughout the resort, and have installed heater controls at the base and top of every lift. Snowbird will continue to find ways to reduce energy consumption as future upgrades are made throughout the resort.

Air Quality Improvements

Snowbird became an “Idle Free” resort in the fall of 2016, with added signage around the resort asking our guests and staff to “Turn Your Key Be Idle Free".

Snowbird continues its partnership with the Utah Atmospheric Trace Gas & Air Quality Lab to monitor air quality at the top of Hidden Peak as a background comparison site to valley monitoring locations, and make this data readily available online.

Snowbird initiated the RIDE Program (Reducing Individual Driving for the Environment) for the 2016/2017 season to incentivize guests and employees to choose alternative transportation to the resort beside driving on their own vehicles. Through the efforts of the RIDE program, more than 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide have been kept out of the atmosphere this past winter, which is the equivalent to not consuming 43,000 gallons of gas.

Snowbird won the 2017 POW Day, a partnership between Protect Our Winters (POW), Ski Utah, and Discrete Clothing. POW Day raises local and national awareness around environmental responsibility. The day was designed to encourage skiers and riders to carpool, take UTA or ride-share to help lower CO2 emissions, reduce traffic congestion and increase the overall awareness around environmental accountability.

Water Quality Improvements

Snowbird continues to conduct resort-wide revegetation programs by planting approximately 2,000 native species seedlings every summer with TreeUtah .

We continue to improve on our water conservation efforts around the resort, recently adding an option for guests at The Cliff Lodge to not have their sheets and towels changed as frequent, using less water and electricity in not washing these items daily.

Snowbird installed water bottle fill stations throughout the resort, decreasing the use of plastic water bottles and showcasing Little Cottonwood Canyon’s delicious mountain tap water.

Snowbird built a seven-mile sewer system instead of using less expensive, but environmentally risky septic tanks.

Education

Snowbird initiated our first Green Week in 2017, finding ways to educate and involve our community on watersheds, waste reduction, air quality and plants.

Snowbird developed environmental education outreach programs that have touched the lives of thousands including the Disabled Skier/Wilderness Experience, Barrier Free Nature Trail, Hawk Watch, Stargazer, Discover Your Forest, Jr. Ranger Program and Wildflower Festival.

Snowbird has enhanced its network of barrier-free nature trails, increased environmental education efforts, added interpretive signs around the resort, doubled its adopt-a-highway commitment and introduced new summer hiking/activity guides which emphasize the public’s environmental stewardship.

Snowbird has partnered with the University of Utah to initiate an Environmental Program Internship.

Advocacy

Snowbird is a Protect Our Winters (POW) Resort Partner, using our corporate weight to help influence climate policy, Snowbird and the town of Alta, in conjunction with the Utah Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program, Little Cottonwood Canyon residents, employees and their immediate families, have participated in an annual canyon clean-up for over 35 years.

Snowbird has partnered with Cottonwood Canyons Foundation on annual invasive weed pulls and wildflower tours.

Snowbird has partnered with Breathe Utah to educate the Snowbird community on legislative issues around air quality in Utah and provide actionable items to affect policy in the state.

Snowbird was one of the initial businesses to sign on to the Low-Carbon USA commitment , committing to address climate change as a business.

Awards & Accomplishments

Snowbird’s ongoing commitment to be environmentally sound and aware was noted by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) awarding Snowbird the 2007 Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence by a ski resort.

Along with partners Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service and Tiffany & Co., Snowbird made history by becoming the first private landowner in Utah to help fund a mining-era clean-up effort to eliminate tailings that was affecting the American Fork watershed.

In addition to the Golden Eagle award, Snowbird’s participation in the Pacific Mine reclamation project was recognized with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Achievement Award and the State of Utah’s 2007 Earth Day Award. Snowbird was also nominated for the 2007 Silver Eagle award for Excellence in Visual Impact for the Peruvian Tunnel construction and received a 2008 Silver Eagle finalist nomination for Excellence in Water Conservation and Water Quality for its Pacific Mine restoration project.

Snowbird won the 2017 POW Day, a partnership between Protect Our Winters (POW), Ski Utah, and Discrete Clothing. POW Day raises local and national awareness around environmental responsibility. The day was designed to encourage skiers and riders to carpool, take UTA or ride-share to help lower CO2 emissions, reduce traffic congestion and increase the overall awareness around environmental accountability.

In 2008, the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition awarded Snowbird an “A” grade after surveying the resort’s environmental commitment to a number of categories, including its footprint, development plans, protection of local species and environment, water and energy conservation, transportation and other key areas.

In December 2005, Snowbird became the first ski area to partner with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) in an effort to provide funds for conservation projects around the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, where the resort is located.

Partnerships