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Vail, CO
Vail, CO

SUSTAINABILITY

Environment

Trees Vail, CO

In 2017, Vail Resorts updated our sustainability. Setting our sights on zero, here are our goals:

  • Zero Net Emissions by 2030.
  • Zero Waste to Landfill by 2030.
  • Zero Operating Impact on Forests and Habitat.

How We Get to Zero

As a company with locations around the globe, we are committed to measuring and eliminating our carbon footprint. We're constantly looking at how we can make the biggest difference, by  improving efficiency with fuel and electricity while reducing overall energy use.

To achieve zero net emissions by 2030, we are committed to:

  • Reducing electricity and natural gas use by another 15 percent, in addition to the 19 percent already achieved. This will be done by improving operating practices and investing $25 million into innovative, energy-saving projects such as low-energy snowmaking equipment, green building design and construction, and more efficient grooming practices and equipment.
  • Since 2008, Vail Resorts has implemented an aggressive plan to reduce its electricity and natural gas use—after adjusting for acquisitions and new business locations.
  • Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy that is equivalent to our total electrical energy use. We work with local, regional and national governments to bring more renewable energy to the grids where we operate.
  • We are already a member of Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, as well as RE100—a global collaborative initiative of influential companies committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity.
  • Investing in carbon offset programs such as tree planting, to account for use of other types of energy (e.g., gasoline and diesel).
  • Engaging with vendors and suppliers to identify and collaborate on opportunities to reduce their emissions and environmental impact.
  • Providing resort guests with information and opportunities to reduce or offset their carbon footprint.
  • Sharing our progress on achieving our "Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint" goals in an annual sustainability report, which follows the fiscal year ending July 2018. The report will follow the Global Reporting Initiative's standard.
  • Based on 2016 levels, Vail Resorts intends to achieve a 50 percent reduction in its net emissions by 2025.
Local Energy & Emissions

Our local electrical utility, Holy Cross Energy, derives power from 60% coal plants, 23% wind, 6% gas and a variety of other sources. This means every lighting, refrigeration and snowmaking investment lowers our CO2 footprint.

Recent snowmaking projects have included a $500,000 compressor estimated to save 1.2 million kwh/year, automation and high efficiency fan guns on Golden Peak and Simba Run, and installing variable frequency drives on pump stations.

LED and lighting retrofits have been done at almost every major facility, including recent projects at Game Creek, Mid Vail, Golden Peak Children’s Center, Vail Fleet Shop, the Mountain Plaza, Express Lift and Lodge at Vail parking garage and loading dock, and many “back of house” locations including kitchens and locker rooms. Vail appreciates its partnership with Holy Cross Energy in helping to offset the cost of many of these projects.

Working with a local refrigeration company, the Vail Mountain Services team has installed seven “free air economizers” at on mountain restaurants. These units reduce electric demand, especially in walk-in chillers, showing up to a 97 percent reduction in usage. Vail has also worked with Fridgewise, another local Colorado company, to retrofit fan blades and motors on walk-in freezers to further reduce use.

Vail currently has two on-site solar photovoltaic installations—one at Bailey’s, at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola and one at the bottom. These installations have generated over 70,000 kwh and prevented over 120,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, for a total of over 12 kwh. Expanding future renewable power is a priority, so Vail is exploring all options including on-site and utility-scale installations through Power Purchase Agreements.

Climate Change is a huge, global challenge that requires action on individual, local, national and global levels. The Eagle County Climate Action Plan is a collaborative effort of over 30 stakeholders in Eagle County, including Vail and Beaver Creek resorts. The plan recommends county-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 25 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050 (from the Eagle County 2014 baseline inventory). This plan is separate from Vail Resorts 2030 Zero Emission Footprint goals, however, we will continue to work with the greater Eagle County community to reach the county-wide goals.

Zero Waste to Landfill by 2030

We plan to hit this goal by diverting 100 percent of the waste from our operations to more sustainable pathways. Currently at a 40 percent waste diversion rate across our entire operations, we have set our sights on an interim target of 50 percent by 2020.

To eliminate waste from our global operations, we are committed to:
  • Improving our recycling and composting program.
  • Engaging with vendors to reduce packaging as well as to source recyclable and compostable products.
  • Working with local resort communities to increase options for reuse and diversion.
  • Increasing awareness and engagement with employees and guests through signage, labeling and training.

Vail Materials Management & Waste

During the winter season, Vail employs four full-time positions devoted to meeting the Zero Footprint Waste Diversion goal of 50 percent by 2020, and Zero Waste by 2030 though recycling, compost, and waste diversion. This Waste Diversion team completes the enormous task of sending over 150 tons of cardboard, 90 tons of scrap metal, 14 tons of compost, 250 tons of singlestream/comingled material, 7,000 gallons of vegetable oil, and truckloads of other recyclables to be reused by various haulers and vendors each year.

Stretching from ticket offices to the mountain tops, this team also finds creative ways to recycle used lift tickets, media cards, granola bar wrappers, office coffee grounds and other materials.

Vail and Beaver Creek are working with Vail Honeywagon, the local waste hauler, to support a full-scale commercial composting operation. By pledging support to send organic materials to a local facility—and working to use finished products on revegetation projects and in flower beds—the future looks bright for composting on an industrial scale in Eagle County.

Look for composting stations at Mid Vail and back-of-house locations in most Vail dining establishments. Composting has been a part of our day-to-day operations since 2008, and we look forward to the commercial compost facility which will be online in the summer or fall of 2018.

Free electronic waste and hard to recycle events are offered to Vail employees bianually, generating over 5,000 pounds per event. This free benefit keeps heavy metals out of the local landfill and reduces trips to the landfill.

Zero Operating Impact on Forests & Habitat

Managing the health and resilience of our forests and habitat takes sound, long-term planning for our critical mountain environments.

To protect the beautiful environments we operate in, we are committed to:

  • Minimizing or eliminating the impact of any future resort development.
  • Planting or restoring an acre of forest for every acre of forest displaced by our operations, with the goal of achieving improved species and age diversity—resulting in healthier, more resilient forests.
  • Continuing and expanding our existing commitments to partner with and fund local organizations focused on the health of forests, habitat and wildlife. In 2016, for example, we contributed more than $1 million to 50 environmental stewardship projects through direct grants, to the $1 guest donation initiative, and to the 1 Percent for the Forests commitment—made in partnership with the National Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Partnership with the Town of Vail

Vail Mountain is happy to support the Town of Vail in their strong environmental efforts through the Love Vail campaign, which includes recycling, Gore Creek care, and the Sole Power commuting challenge.

The Town of Vail is leading the process of third party sustainability certification, through Sustainable Travel International and the Global Sustainable Travel Council’s guidelines. This process is a journey, not an end point, using U.N. recognized standards to evaluate and guide travel destinations in sustainability efforts. Based on a 40-point criteria, Vail aims to obtain a certification in late 2017.

Love Vail

Information about recycling, reusable bag use, and other waste questions are available through the Town of Vail’s Love Vail Recycling program.

Gore Creek

Learn about efforts to clean up Gore Creek and rehabilitate the macro invertebrate populations through the Town of Vail’s “A Little Wild Goes a Long Way” program.

Transportation

We encourage guests to use transit options such as Colorado Mountain Express while travelling to Vail. And thanks to our extensive, free in town bus system run by the Town of Vail, you won't need a car during your visit in summer or winter.

Vail employees are encouraged to take public transit—either the free bus system or the regional bus system—with subsidized passes available. There is also a carpool-only row in the employee parking lot, which encourages commuting to work together.

Vail Mountain also provides a yellow “townie” bike fleet, available to employees for traveling between base area locations in the summer, to reduce car trips.

Epic Promise Charitable Giving and Community Programs

Each year, Vail Resorts gives more than $8.6 million in cash, and in kind support, to more than 250 nonprofit partners in mountain communities. Grants and donations focus on youth programs and environmental initiatives that impact our local communities.

In Eagle County, where Vail and Beaver Creek are located, support totalled more than $2.7 million in 2016 to over 50 nonprofit organizations. View a complete list of these organizations on EpicPromise.com.

National Forest Foundation Guest Donation Program

Voluntary donations on a variety of products and hospitality purchases have contributed over $1 million in 2016 to the National Forest Foundation, the Tahoe Fund, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, and Mountain Trails Foundation. Over the life of these programs, more than $4.5 million has been raised to support projects in forests that surround our resorts.

We invite you to check “yes” when making a pass purchase to continue support of these programs with a $1 donation.

1% for the Forest

One percent of revenues from Summer Epic Discovery programs at Vail, Breckenridge, and Heavenly are donated to the Nature Conservancy, to fund ecological restoration and preservation projects.

Epic Discovery Kids

Partnering with the Eagle County School District, Vail provides an on-mountain experience to every fourth grader in the local community through Epic Discovery Kids.

The program includes an extensive nature tour with curriculum developed by the USFS and Walking Mountains Science Center, as well as input from science teachers. After the program, kids can enjoy activities such as tubing, the mountain coaster and the ropes course at the top of Vail Mountain.

“One goal of this partnership is to engage more local students with experiences on the National Forest, which is right in their own backyard. We are interested in growing the next generation of stewards for national forests,” said Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “Cultivating students’ connection to national forests is made possible by partnering with Vail Resorts through Epic Discovery Kids, to provide access and opportunity for local kids up on the mountain.”

EpicVolunteers Employee Program

EpicVolunteers provides Vail Resorts employees the chance to embark on enriching, in-depth experiences, by awarding them with 40 hours of paid time off for volunteer projects. Participants can work with a charity of their choice anywhere in the world. All seasonal and year-round Vail Resorts employees who work part or full-time, and have at least 750 hours with the company, can apply for EpicVolunteers.

Although many employees choose to spend time at locations near and dear to their hearts, others have volunteered in locations around the world including Nepal, Mexico, Patagonia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Epic Promise Week

Each fall, Vail Resorts employees gather for a company-wide volunteer week in the local community. In Eagle County, around 300 volunteers join in mid-September to work on projects near the Vail and Beaver Creek locations.

Past Projects:

2017:
Three projects in Eagle County: Trail repair at Shrine Pass ADA accessible trail and Julia’s Deck, Native Vegetation restoration in Eagle Vail along the Eagle River, and willow planting/social trail closings along the Eagle River open space in Edwards.

2016: Volunteers built a multi-use trail around Minturn’s Little Beach park.

2015: Restoration and rehabilitation work on the Mesquite Trail, a USFS trail in the SingleTree neighborhood.

2014: Construction of a climbing trail, Wyse Way, in the West Avon Preserve.

2013: Planting willows and repairing riparian areas along the Eagle River in Edwards.

EpicPromise Foundation

The EpicPromise Foundation supports Vail Resorts employees and their dependents in times of need through emergency financial assistance and educational grants. The Foundation provides up to $750,000 annually in employee grants with 100 percent of donations going to employees in need. In 2016, the Foundation gave $546,214 to 299 employees through emergency relief and educational grants.

Emergency relief grants are awarded to assist with unpredictable life setbacks such as an unplanned medical issues, home disasters or other life events. Educational grants are awarded to assist with tuition for any course leading to a degree or certificate for employees and/or their children.

Application details can be found on the Epic Promise Foundation Website.