Vail Resorts advances toward zero net operating footprint

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — With this year’s winter season officially underway, skiers and snowboarders have another reason to celebrate: Vail Resorts’ 34 North American mountains have reached 85 percent renewable electricity—one big step closer to a zero net operating footprint by 2030. Through its operations, as well as by promoting collective participation, Vail Resorts is prioritizing efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Vail Resorts’ 2020/21 EpicPromise Progress Report tracks the company’s industry-leading commitment to preserving the environment, addressing the most urgent needs of mountain communities, and supporting employees.

Vail Resorts is on track to reach zero net emissions by 2030. The large-scale wind farm the company enabled has been producing clean electricity since June 2020, allowing Vail Resorts to reach 85% renewable electricity across its 34 North American resorts this year. That number is expected to rise again in 2023 after the Elektron Solar project comes online, which broke ground October 2021.

In addition, the company donated $19.4 million to 150 local organizations working to address the top priorities of the communities where Vail Resorts operates – from supporting critical needs like food and housing assistance and childcare, to youth access programs and forest health.

— In South Lake Tahoe, 1,882,899 was donated to 15 organizations working to support youth and family critical need (Casa El Dorado), access (South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center, Tahoe Freeride Series), community vitality (El Dorado Community Foundation, Sierra Avalanche), and environmental impact (League to Save Lake Tahoe).

— In North Lake Tahoe, $804,481 was donated to 17 organizations working to support youth and family critical needs (Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, Sierra Community House), access (SOS Outreach, Girls on the Run, Achieve Tahoe), community vitality (Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation), and environmental impact (League to Save Lake Tahoe, Truckee Donner Land Trust).

— Additionally, Tahoe received $186,892 in generous guest donations to The Tahoe Fund and a portion of guest donations to The Nature Conservancy (via 1% of Epic Discovery ticket sales at Heavenly, Breckenridge, and Vail, which fund local forest and habitat restoration projects).

The EpicPromise Employee Foundation provided $1.72 million in emergency relief grants and scholarships to team members, including $440,000 in educational scholarships for employees and their dependents.

“Vail Resorts has remained dedicated to protecting the environment, supporting our employees, and investing in our mountain communities, even amid unprecedented challenges,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief executive officer at Vail Resorts in a press release. “With the release of our fourth annual EpicPromise Progress Report, Vail Resorts achieved industry-leading sustainability progress, expanded access to the outdoors for those who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, and supported our employees through unexpected challenges and continued education. Our company’s core values serve as our roadmap as we continue to advance our bold goals together, toward a healthy, inclusive and more sustainable future.”

Vail is working to mitigate the impacts of climate change through the Commitment to Zero program.

Vail Resorts launched Commitment to Zero in 2017—a bold goal to achieve a zero net operating footprint by 2030 through zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill, and zero net operating impact on forests and habitat. The company remains on track to reach each of these pillars.

In June 2020, the Plum Creek Wind project which Vail Resorts enabled came online. This electricity, plus energy from local renewable programs, addressed 85 percent of the company’s North American electricity use during 2020/21. Additionally, despite the temporary switch to single-use items in order to help keep guests and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company composted and recycled 9.8 million pounds of waste and reduced total waste by 483 tons compared to the previous season.

One company cannot solve the climate crisis alone. Through involvement in groups such as the Outdoor Industry Business Climate Partnership, Ceres, and RE100, Vail Resorts advocates at local and national levels for policies that fight climate change and work toward clean and renewable energy solutions. In April 2021, Vail Resorts joined over 400 companies urging the Biden Administration to commit the U.S. to an emissions reduction target of at least 50 percent by 2030.

In June 2021, alongside Alterra Mountain Company, Boyne Resorts, and POWDR, Vail Resorts announced the Climate Collaborative Charter, the ski industry’s first unified effort to combat climate change with shared commitments around sustainability and advocacy.

Source: Vail Resorts


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