Low Energy, High Rewards
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Written by Win Smith
Even though I was born and spent my formative years in New York City, I was fortunate to be able to get into the wilderness a lot, and at an early age I gained a deep appreciation for the environment. What attracted me to the Mad River Valley was captured by Bill Pennington in his New York Times article this past Sunday. The Mad River Valley has been a sanctuary that has been preserved by many before us, and we feel a deep commitment to helping keep it that way. That doesn’t mean we do not plan to continue growing, but we want to do it in a fashion that fits the character and the special environment of the Mad River Valley. One of my special moments is an early morning run on Upper Snowball, where I can pause and see the majestic Northfield Mountain ridgeline unspoiled by industrial development.
As we understand more about Climate Change, we recognize that we must do our part as well, even if it is minimal compared to what needs to be done overall. For the past few years we have focused on energy efficiency, whether working with Efficiency Vermont on our new construction projects, making investments in low-energy snowmaking equipment, or partnering with others to develop solar farms in Vermont. We are improving how we recycle and compost in all of our food outlets, we have a no-idling policy we ask everyone to adhere to, and we have focused on maintaining clean water around the resort. In 2011 we received a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for getting the Rice Brook stream removed from the “impaired waters” list. And we recently installed two Tesla charging stations, with more electric-charging-station installs planned for next summer.
Sometimes you don’t think of agriculture in helping with the battle against Climate Change. But by buying as much local produce as we can, our carbon footprint is reduced and we are providing our guests with healthy products. The Mad Bus is another initiative which helps reduce our carbon footprint, and we really appreciate everyone who takes advantage of this service in winter.
The investment in the low-energy snowmaking equipment has been a win-win-win. Not only does it allow us to use significantly less electricity over the course of the winter, but more importantly, it allows us to maximize the amount of water we are putting through the system-- especially when snowmaking temperatures are marginal. The value of this was demonstrated this winter when we had far fewer hours of snowmaking temperatures and yet we were able to produce a product that we were very proud of. With help from Mother Nature after our snow dance on December 28th, we were the first major resort in the East to be 100% open. The third “win” is that the quality of the snow from these guns has made for some great runs. Last weekend, I think I had one of the nicest days on Stein’s ever.
We are a small player in the scope of what needs to be done globally, but by doing our part we hope that we will encourage everyone to do theirs and to preserve our precious environment.