By Karina | February 11, 2008
This weekend I went skiing with some friends-slash-colleagues and I was pleased that we were able to go to Jiminy Peak, a resort and ski area near my parents house that is known for their commitment to renewable energy – so much so that they have their own wind turbine!
Jiminy Peak strongly believes in preserving the Earth for future generations. We are showing our commitment by being the first Mountain Resort in North America to install a wind turbine in order to generate clean, natural energy. Together we can shape a sustainable community for the future.
According to the FAQs, the turbine is capable of providing up to 33% of the resorts electrical demand, and in the winter months up to 50% of demand. It’s also great to learn that in addition to installation of the turbine, Jiminy Peak has been reducing energy use for over 15 years and has won recognition awards for conservation through upgrades to equipment and energy audits.
It was beautiful weather for skiing after the initial whiteout snow-squall, and when we hit the West Way trail it was amazing to round a corner and see a big incredible turbine looming right in front of us, with the blades appearing to be roughly at eye level spinning steadily. I didn’t bring my camera with me but you can see some photos on flickr, including this view of the turbine as you see it from the trail. I will admit that when I rounded that corner I said (quite loudly!) “WOW!” and I’m kind of relieved that my companions didn’t hear me.
So why is this such a big deal? not only do ski areas traditionally have big energy uses during the winter months for snow making, lighting, and lift operation, but there are also lots of additional impacts – there’s the water use for snow making, the deforestation issues, and the harder-to-measure impact of all those snow bunnies driving to the slopes. (For a more comprehensive look, check out this list of impacts.) In fact, I just found out that Mad River Glen evaluates it’s carbon neutrality while including those transportation impacts from the skiers to the mountains! The real elephant in the corner is climate change and how it will impact the business of winter sports. To that end, the National Ski Area Association developed a “sustainable slopes” environmental charter. The National Ski Area Association has teamed up with the NRDC in a campaign called “keep winter cool” which states clearly how climate change will impact skiers – and in a world where glaciers are melting and European ski areas have been having problems due to warmer winters for several years now, this is a campaign that can hit a really receptive audience.
For more information about environmentally friendly ski areas in the west, check out the Ski Area Citizens Coalition for top ten and worst ten lists. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to include any areas in the northeast, where Team Tiny Choices is most likely to hit the slopes. but you can also check out the National Ski Area Association and search by state or resort name to see if your favorite slope is an endorser.
And if you do ski or snowboard and pick an environmentally friendly ski resort, be sure to let them know! it’s one thing to support someones actions, but it’s much more effective if that someone knows that we are supporting them, as well. I’m emailing a link to this post to Jiminy Peak because I had such a great day, and an even better one knowing that Jiminy is so committed to environmentalism.
Photo from Jiminy Peak webpage. See more turbine pictures here.
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