Lakewood, CO – Three winners of the National Ski Area Association’s (NSAA) Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence have been named. SKI Magazine founded the program in 1993 to encourage sustainability and to recognize resorts for their commitment to the environment, and ski areas have come a long way in the past 22 years. Three Golden Eagle Awards are given to a small (up to 200,000 visits), medium (200-500,000 visits) and large resort (over 500,000 visits) with a deserving environmental program or project.
Shawnee Peak Ski Area in Maine won the Golden Eagle Award in the small ski area category. Shawnee Peak has invested significantly in efficient snowmaking, resulting in measurable reductions in energy use. Today the ski’s area’s entire fleet is composed of low-energy snow guns. As a result of recent improvements, the ski area has achieved a significant reduction in demand charges from its utility provider, a 55 percent reduction in diesel consumption, and a sizeable reduction in its CO2 emissions.
Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon took the top environmental honors in the medium-sized ski area category for its carbon emission reduction results. As a founding member of the industry’s “Climate Challenge,” the ski area has taken significant steps over the past four years to meet its goal of achieving a six percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 using a 2011 baseline. Mt. Hood’s focus on reduced electrical consumption, fuel consumption, and waste sent to the landfill have produced exemplary results, including a power use reduction of 76,035 kWh and a waste disposal reduction of 141,277 pounds.
Winter Park Resort in Colorado won the Golden Eagle Award in the large resort category for the sustainable construction of its new Lunch Rock Restaurant. Features include a roof line that matches the nearby topography; a compact, simple structure for the building itself; the use of natural materials such as wood and rock; and color schemes that match the nearby landscape. Recycled material including mountain pine beetle and Wyoming snow fence wood was used extensively on the interior for siding, furniture, cabinets, signs, and doors. Employees of Winter Park made the tables and chairs in their shop using pine beetle kill wood, and made the light fixtures in their shop as well. There is also a state-of-the-art interpretive display, providing guests with current information on the resort, the local USFS district, and the importance of clean water.
In addition to the Golden Eagle Awards, Brent Giles received the Hero of Sustainability award because he leverages his company-level impacts to an entire industry and beyond. As the chief sustainability officer for Powdr, Giles has been instrumental in Powdr Green, the sustainability program that drives all of Powdr’s ski areas towards reducing their environmental impact. He has led a variety of energy saving and carbon cutting initiatives, and then consistently challenged and tested those efforts to see if Powdr could do better. The result has been a whopping 62 percent reduction in carbon emissions in the last fiscal year. Giles has helped Powdr put their money where their mouth is on the topic of climate change, investing $7 million on energy savings initiatives that are now reaping their rewards: $2 million annually in reduced energy costs.