Sugarbush Resort is committed to preserving and improving the natural environment in which it is located. Toward that end, we partner with many local, regional, and national organizations including the U.S. Forest Service. With the USFS, we work to preserve the Green Mountain National Forest, whose lands host many of our winter and summer activities. Other organizations including the VT Agency of Natural Resources, Friends of the Mad River, and the Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership provide valuable guidance in our efforts to improve water quality in various streams and brooks. And we collaborate with The Green Mountain Club and the Catamount Trail Association on permanently protecting recreational trails.
Sugarbush Resort operates under several stormwater discharge permits which govern the management of stormwater generated from resort-related development and land use. Stormwater is precipitation (snow melt and rain water) that runs off impervious surfaces rather than infiltrating into the soil. Impacts of stormwater runoff can lead to destabilization of downstream stream channels and increased pollution entering our waterways. Stormwater management techniques are employed throughout the resort to remove pollutants, and slow, spread and sink stormwater back into the ground before it enters the brooks and streams around us.
Sugarbush Resort’s Mountain Water Company is committed to providing safe, clean drinking water to resort guests. Resort drinking water comes from the Clay Brook and thirteen bedrock wells, where water is pumped from depths of up to 800 feet. MWC uses energy-efficient pumping technology and lighting in producing water. MWC is operated in strict conformance with US Environmental Protection Agency and VT Agency of Natural Resources domestic water supply rules and complies with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Wastewater (sewer) from the resort is separated and cleaned through a carefully controlled and monitored process that involves collection , filtration, aeration, and disinfection. Lincoln Peak Wastewater Treatment and Mountain Wastewater Treatment are the resort’s two large facilities that oversee the careful handling of used water. Read our Sugarbush Magazine article on the resort’s wastewater systems.
Stream and Brook Repair
In the late 1990’s, the resort initiated a multi-year water-quality remediation plan in partnership with Burlington-based Vanasse Hangen Brustlin. This plan has resulted in the clean-up of several important high-elevation brooks and streams at the resort. In 2012, Sugarbush accepted the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility spring conference, which recognized the removal of Rice Brook from the state’s “impaired waters” list. This project was subsequently lauded by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Traditionally, the resort’s off-road diesel fleet (groomers, excavators, and heavy equipment) relied on 100% petroleum diesel (conventional diesel). Since 2004, Sugarbush has implemented the use of biodiesel in off-road diesel machinery, including their entire grooming fleet, to offset conventional diesel usage. In comparison to conventional diesel fuel, biodiesel fuel has lower emissions, is biodegradable, renewable, and non-toxic. Biodiesel availability in the northeast can be variable. The resort’s goal is to run a 20% biodiesel blend in their off-road fleet.
Sugarbush completed a five-year, $5 million upgrade to its snowmaking system in 2014. The project replaced the majority of the resort’s traditional snowmaking technology with low-energy snowmaking guns. The new guns require approximately 2% of the power used to run traditional guns, allowing the resort to double snowmaking production during warmer early-season temperatures and run more snowguns simultaneously at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. The resort has seen a reduction in energy consumption supporting ski area operations of approximately 24% without compromising either the quality or quantity of snow.
In 2007, the resort discontinued use of supplemental diesel generators supporting early-season snowmaking, significantly reducing diesel fuel consumption and the associated air emissions.
The resort has provided recycling bins in all public places and in lodging guest rooms for many years. Composting (organics separation) began in 2010 and now occurs in all of resort kitchens (back of the house) including The Schoolhouse and table-service dining locations. Limited guest (front of house) composting was introduced in 2014, with a goal to bring guest composting to all of the cafeterias within the next few years. Public liquid dumping stations were added in Gate House Lodge in 2015-2016.
In 2016, the resort introduced its first four-stream public waste receptacles in Gate House Lodge. These receptacles allow consumers to separate food scraps, liquids, recyclables and trash. The goal over the next few years is to bring more lodges online with four-stream waste receptacles. Recycling occurs in all staff areas, and composting has begun.
Since 2013, the resort has increased their diversion rate from 30% to 35%, which represents the amount of material kept out of the landfill. Since 2013, compost tonnage has increased by more than 200%.
Solar Array Development
In 2016, Sugarbush entered into a long-term partnership with Green Lantern Capital of Waterbury, Vermont, to support the development of 2.5 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy. As of early 2017, four 500 kilowatt arrays—in Poultney, Brandon, New Haven, and Guilford--are fully operational and plugged into Green Mountain Power’s electrical grid. A fifth project, in Wells River, is scheduled to come online by the end of 2017.
Sugarbush’s purchase of discounted net-metering credits generated by these solar arrays provides an economic incentive for clean solar power generation in the state of Vermont, and allows Green Mountain Power to avoid importing electricity from outside the state, the majority of which is produced using fossil fuels (coal and gas).
The Green Lantern Group has partnered with Middlebury-based “Bee the Change” to install three acres of pollinator-friendly flowers and plantings among the solar panels in their New Haven solar array. This will promote and preserve Vermont’s endangered bee, butterfly, and bird populations.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Tesla charging is available in the underground parking garage of the Clay Brook Hotel and Residences. Charging is free to hotel guests and owners; resort guests may utilize the Clay Brook parking garage Tesla charging stations for $25. In addition to the Tesla chargers located in the Clay Brook parking garage, 4 EV and 9 Tesla charging stations are available at Lincoln Peak in Parking Lot C. These charger are first come first serve and available at no cost to guests. Plans for additional charging stations in Rice Brook and Gadd Brook residences and Mt Ellen are underway.
The Mad Bus, operated by Green Mountain Transit, provides free winter public transportation between Sugarbush’s two mountains and throughout the Mad River Valley. Sugarbush contributes 30% of the Mad Bus budget to assist guests with local public transportation options and encourages them to reduce CO2 emissions by leaving their cars behind.
Sugarbush has begun to phase in LED (light emitting diodes) lighting at the resort in buildings and site lighting. As this technology grows in availability, and costs for LED lighting come down, the resort will continue to replace existing Fluorescent and HID lamps with LED lamps. Benefits to LEDs include long lifespan relative to other lighting technology (including fluorescent lights); extreme energy efficiency relative to other commercially-available lighting technology, which helps to reduce energy use; high light quality; and low maintenance costs.
The resort housekeeping team introduced all non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning supplies in 2005. Resort-supplied shampoo, soap, conditioner, and lotion is biodegradable, and packaged in biodegradable and/or recyclable material. The resort linen program offers an optional reuse program for guests, to eliminate unnecessary laundering. Housekeeping staff is trained to turn down thermostats, and turn off lights and televisions, in unoccupied rooms.
VT Open-Space Preservation
Sugarbush’s majority owner and president Win Smith’s Family Foundation has donated significantly to assist the Vermont Land Trust in purchasing and preserving important land parcels for Vermont’s agricultural and recreational use. Those properties include Camel’s Hump State Park, Blueberry Lake National Forest, Scrag Town Forest, and the Bragg Barn. The Foundation supports numerous other environmental initiatives.
In 1999, Sugarbush created a team of employees, supervisors, and resort management to aid in the implementation of a specific environmental management philosophy. The mission of this group, the Green Team, was to initiate environmental quality enhancements throughout the business operations by preventing pollution and environmental degradation. This goal needed to be met without compromising business objectives, while improving resource efficiency, materials management and handling, and environmental quality resort-wide. Programs such as Resort Green-Up Day and participation in the Way to Go Commuter Challenge were initiated by this group. In 2016 alone, 100 employees spent (collectively) 224 hours “greening up” resort property and the surrounding area. 2016’s Way to Go Challenge logged 34% of employees biking, carpooling, walking, and telecommuting their way to a savings of 5,822 commuting miles and 3,603 pounds of carbon saved.
In 2014, the Green Team was absorbed by the Safety/Environmental/Wellness Committee. This committee has made great strides in supporting resort recommendations to improve its three areas of focus. SEW has introduced the installation of a water-bottle filling station in Gate House lodge; improvements to waste management including implementation of “Trash Talkers”, volunteers and staff who coach guests on how to recycle/compost/and dispose of their trash properly; formalization of a resort-wide no-idling policy; and the purchase and distribution of reusable water pouches for all staff. In the 2016-2017 winter season, more than 5700 water bottles were saved using the new filling station. The resort plans to install three more water-bottle filling stations in main base lodges for the 2017-2018 season. In 2017, the SEW Committee won its third Governor’s Wellness Award in recognition of its work.
Sugarbush partners with many local, regional, and national organizations to further their environmental initiatives.
U.S. Forest Service
Sugarbush partners with the USFS to manage the land in the Green Mountain National Forest on which a large portion of the resort’s recreational offerings is based. Trail and building maintenance and development that falls on USFS land is coordinated carefully and in compliance with USFS staff. A portion of all revenue generated from resort recreational activities goes back to support the USFS. For more information, please call 802-747-6700.
Protect Our Winters (POW)
Sugarbush partnered with Protect Our Winters at their highest level of commitment in 2019, joining Patagonia, Burton, Aspen Snowmass, Clif Bar, North Face, REI, Ikon Pass, and other corporate leaders in the fight against climate change. POW, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, works to turn passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates and leads a community of athletes, thought pioneers, and forward-thinking business leaders to affect systemic political solutions to climate change.
NSAA - Climate Challenge
In 2011, Sugarbush joined the NSAA’s Climate Challenge, a voluntary program designed to assist ski areas committed to developing greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, setting goals for carbon reduction, implementing at least one on-site reduction strategy per year, and reporting success in reducing their overall carbon footprint. Since Sugarbush joined the Climate Challenge, the resort has been able to track consistent reductions in electricity usage, solid waste disposal, and increases in composting and recycling.
1% For The Planet
Rumble's Kitchen, Sugarbush Resort's signature restaurant, is a member of 1% For The Planet, a global collection of businesses pledging one percent of revenues to environmental causes. Since joining in 2012, Sugarbush has given over $50,000 to environmental organizations including the Vermont Fresh Network, the Mad River Path Association, Friends of the Mad River, and the Vermont Land Trust (supporting Fayston’s Bragg Farm conservation project).