Breck’s focus on the environment
Breckenridge Ski Resort is situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. From carpooling incentives to digging in the dirt in the summer to cut down on winter water use, Breckenridge is involved in a variety of ways to maintain the pristine environment in which it operates.
Ski resorts do not strike many as an energy conserving operation. Snowmaking, restaurants, lift operations, running ski shops and other day-to-day operations require large amounts of power. However, Breckenridge has worked with Xcel Energy to decrease the amount of energy it uses.
According to Ray Weller, the Environmental Manager for Breckenridge, the resort has consumed 30 percent less energy by installing almost 200 low-energy snowmaking guns. Breckenridge has also upgraded many of its lift motors, which use energy more effectively and therefore require 30 percent less electricity to run. In addition, by installing energy-efficient lights, the mountain saves the equivalent electricity consumed annually by 15 US households.
In the Freeway terrain park, permanent features were built out of dirt over the summer. As a result, less snow-making (only about 3,000,000 gallons of water’s worth) is required each year to build the park.
In other areas, the mountain has installed LED exit signs, compact fluorescent bulbs, air temperature sensors so that unnecessary heating does not occur, Clivus toilets that do not require plumbing or water (such as the one in the Chair 6 warming hut), and motion sensor lights in bathrooms. All of these efforts decrease the energy required to run the resort.
Corporate & Environmental Stewardship
Breckenridge Resort is part of Vail Resort’s Echo program. This is the “community giving and stewardship side of our business,” Weller says. This year the program gave over six million dollars to approximately 212 different organizations that support education and the environment.
Additionally, each resort involved has its own environmental stewardship programs. Recently, Breckenridge focused efforts on composting food waste, a project started in 2010. Each season, Breckenridge composts approximately 60 tons of food and recycles over 65 tons of other materials (such as plastic, paper, etc.). The goal, Weller says, is for the resort to move toward “Zero Waste” in its food and beverage departments.
To keep tourists, locals, and other stakeholders informed about the Rocky Mountain environment, Breckenridge promotes education.
Ski with a Ranger is a guided ski program. Skiers and snowboarders can take turns down Peak 7 and learn about the resort’s environmental efforts, Breckenridge wildlife, the destruction from the Pine Beetle, town history and gain avalanche awareness. This free service is held on Fridays throughout the season at the base of the Independence Chair.
Beyond these initiatives, Breckenridge partners with many different organizations and is involved in the environment through a variety of other projects. To learn more, visit our website.
— Jesse Ambrogi Yanson