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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states it well: “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”

At Vail Resorts, one of our Guiding Values is to Do Good. We bring this value to life through Epic Promise.

At a ski area, electricity and natural gas from snowmaking, lifts, and facility heating are the biggest contributions to climate change. We are focused on making these activities energy efficient. The transition to utility scale renewable energy can be made easier by decreasing overall electricity demand, and reducing natural gas and diesel use not only decreases carbon emissions, it makes smart business sense.

Vail Resorts committed to “Target 10” in 2008, a 10% reduction in energy use by 2012. Hitting that number ahead of schedule in 2011, the company committed to “The Next Ten”, a program aimed at yet another 10% by 2020. As of October 2014, we are over 6% of the way there. We believe aggressive energy reduction is one of the most important actions a company can take to mitigate climate change contribution.

In the last 5 years, over 3 million dollars has been invested at Vail alone, on projects such as new snowmaking compressors, efficient snow guns, lighting and heating, boilers, GPS tracking equipment for snowcats, small renewable energy installations, and other energy saving measures. 

Better and more efficient grooming through technology 

By investing in GPS tracking technology, Vail has increased acres/gallon and decreased high RPm and idle time in the grooming fleet. Real time and historic data is provided to operators to make sure that areas are groomed in the most efficient manner, allowing for more acres to be groomed per night, and to decrease inefficient operations. The result? More acres groomed per gallon of diesel. The cats are also equipped with snow depth sensors, helping to reduce excess snowmaking. Video: get a behind-the-scenes look at Vail's grooming fleet and their use of this GPS tracking technology.


Screen capture of the ISAAC System tracking Vail's grooming fleet. This information is used to help reduce idle times and groom the mountain as efficiently as possible.

New Golden Peak snowmaking compressor saves over 1.2 million KWH 

Installed in 2013, a new $500,000 air compressor has replaced 7 compressors and saved over 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year. Capital improvements in energy efficiency and other environmental projects totaled over 5 million dollars at Vail over the last 5 years. Although not always visible to the public eye, behind the scenes improvements like this are key to reaching our energy reduction goals at Vail Resorts. 
Testing new technologies

Working with a local refrigeration company, Vail tested a patent pending technology takes advantage of the high altitude, cold, “free air” from outside to cool a large walk in food chiller at Eagle’s Nest. A computer program running an efficient variable speed DC fan ducts air in from the outside instead of running a electric compressor. Results showed this cooler “economizer” reduced compressor run time by over 90%, so we are installing 10 more units across the company, including 5 at Vail for the 2015/2016 season.
Alternative Energy – Solar Power

Harnessing the resort’s 300 days of sunshine, the environmental team installed 42 200-watt solar panels on the roof of Bailey's restaurant at Adventure Ridge over the summer, creating an 8.4 kilowatt system that will produce enough energy to power the entire building and the excess electricity will light other facilities at Eagle's Nest. An additional installation is planned at the bottom terminal of the Eagle Bahn Gondola in fall of 2015. Vail and Beaver Creek also support our local electric utility, Holy Cross Energy, in their renewable energy goals.


Vail recycles or reuses more than 300 tons of material from the mountain each year, including cardboard, aluminum, glass and even chairlifts and mechanical parts.

Interesting examples:

  • Old unusable ski gear is collected at Vail Resorts Retail locations and sent to be shredded and recycled.
  • Partially used soap bars from the Arrabelle are collected and sent to Clean the World, which reuses them to make new bars of soap to be distributed to improve global health conditions.
  • Veggie oil from mountain dining facilities is collected by a Colorado company to be turned into biodiesel.

Completing the circle

It’s vitally important not only to divert food waste, but to find uses and develop a market for the end product. Vail is working with the Forest Service to use local compost on large re-vegetation projects. Our food scrap composting program is also used to plant flowers and herb gardens across the resort.

Energy efficient floodlights at Adventure Ridge
Reducing Waste

Programs to reduce single use plastic water bottles include “Water on the Rocks”, a glass bottle water program at the Arrabelle and Lodge at Vail, installation of many water bottle filling stations across hotel and mountain dining facilities, and sale at low cost of collapsible, reusable water bottles at retail stores and some food outlets. Please consider bring your own bottle or buying one of these collapsible water bottles to reduce cup/bottle waste! 
Water Efficiency

Did you know that the drinking water on Vail Mountain is from springs located on the mountain? Our Mountain Services crew has taken a strong stance on water conservation. They have either replaced or retrofit old fixtures (from faucets to toilets to urinals) to more efficient "low" flow fixtures. This has led to a 27% reduction in drinking water usage on Vail Mountain in four years.
On Mountain Dining prep scraps composting program

Organic waste is a large contributor to climate change. Organic solids that are landfilled turn into methane, which has greenhouse effects over 20 times that of CO2.

At Vail, we are working to reduce the amount of organic wastes sent to the landfill by composting our non meat, non dairy kitchen scraps at Vail on mountain dining facilities. Since there is not a commercial facility at Vail, the Vail Environmental team operates two “Earth Tubs”.

Scraps from all on-mountain facilities are sent to these tubs. Finished material is used in flower gardens and made available to employees in the spring and summer. If too much food scrap material is generated, the extra is sent to a pig farmer in nearby Wolcott, along with scraps from Beaver Creek.

Vail is working with Eagle County and local waste haulers to support a large scale local commercial composting facility with the goal of composting all food waste in the future.

The Tavern at Arrabelle at Vail Square and the Arrabelle Starbucks also send compost from operations to a Routt County facility via a local waste hauler, Vail Honeywagon.

We encourage you to look into composting options in your area, it’s an easy way to reduce your footprint and chip in to prevent climate change!
 Vail environmental initiatives

Vail Epic Promise Sustainable CommunitiesLast year, Vail Resorts contributed over $7 million in cash and product to over 250 non profit partners in our resort communities. In Eagle County, where Vail is located, contributions will total over $2.1 million for 2015. Through a voluntary guest donation program, over $3 million has been raised for 30 non-profit partners and 62 projects in Colorado and Lake Tahoe through partnerships with The National Forest Foundation and The Tahoe Fund

Vail employees volunteer more than 20,000 hours annually to projects around the world. Our Epic Volunteer program gives up to 50 employees every year 40 hours of paid time to work with a charity of their choice. From our backyards to countries like Nepal, Honduras, Mexico, and Borneo, Vail Resorts employees are making a difference all over the world. 


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