Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont has earned the Sustainable Community Certification from an organisation called Audubon International, becoming the first ski resort in the U.S. to merit this environmental achievement.
Members of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for certification, which recognizes dedication to the process of becoming a more sustainable community and beginning to act on a sustainability plan. The plan covers 15 focus areas, and members must choose timelines and measurable goals. Once progress is documented, members become certified.
“As the first Private Sector Track member to receive the Audubon International Sustainable Community Certification, Stowe Mountain Resort has demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideals of sustainability – economic vitality, environmental protection, and social responsibility,” says Suzi Zakowski, Manager of the Sustainable Communities Program. “The strong environmental commitment is to evident employees, guests and the surrounding community.”
Stowe Mountain Resort’s accomplishments include supporting local farmers and community supported agriculture in food operations resort wide and the local economy by reducing reliance on food that increases the carbon footprint of the resort by using local products whenever possible. To date, 83% of vendors provide 100% locally produced agricultural, artisanal and other similar products that are produced locally.
Through partnerships with the Vermont Agency Natural Resources, The University of Vermont, and the Green Mountain Club, the ridgeline of Mount Mansfield is managed and used for research by the university environmental professors and students. Over 2,000 acres of natural habitat has been conserved; 10 acres are summit terrain, which is highly specific breeding ground for Bicknell’s Thrush. Peregrine Falcons, Moose, and Bear are other major species that are being protected through these conserved acres.
The resort has seen annual improvements in the water quality of its streams and conducts quarterly monitoring of selected stream segments. Current storm water runoff from the development area is collected, stored, and reused for snowmaking. The mountain trail system is managed under management plan directed at improving the hydrologic characteristics of the trail system.
Since 2000, Stowe has installed energy efficiency improvements that are resulting in annual electrical use savings of 8,033,645 kW per year, or enough power to support 715 homes annually. Purchasing policies have been established that place a priority on the purchase of sustainable products.
The resort established in 2009 an employee ride share program that enables employees to park in lots located at the base of the mountain if they travel with 3 or more individuals. SMR is exploring ride share programs for its guests and contributed $40,000 for the operation of the municipal public Mountain Road Trolley system which experienced a 7% increase in ridership in 2009.