TELLURIDE – “The people who live and work here have a true desire, not only in word, but also in spirit, to be a sustainable community. And so the ski company has a big responsibility to behave in that manner,” says Telluride Ski and Golf CEO Dave Riley, speaking of the resort’s recent commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through a new program offered by the National Ski Areas Association.
The Telluride Ski Resort is one of only eight ski areas in the nation to take the Climate Challenge, a new National Ski Areas Association program that strives to raise consciousness about, as well as provide guidance for, reducing energy consumption at ski areas around the country. Telluride joins Alta, The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah; Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin; Jackson Hole in Wyoming; Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts; and Oregon’s Mt. Hood Meadows as the “flagship” ski areas participating in the program.
TSG’s Riley says the company saw the Climate Challenge as an opportunity to utilize the resources and framework of the NSAA to help realize its goal of being a more environmentally conscious company. The resorts participating in the Climate Challenge have the help of an environmental consultant, who will oversee the process as each of the resorts’ work towards building more energy-efficient business models.
Although there are many other similar programs available to American companies, the fact that the NSAA’s Climate Challenge is designed specifically for ski areas proved vital in TSG’s signing up for the multi-year program.
“Being a project specific to ski resorts was important,” Riley says. “There are a lot of similar efforts out there, but ski areas are something of a different animal” when it comes to energy consumption, he says.
The three-step Climate Challenge process begins with an environmental inventory, designed to assess a ski resort’s carbon footprint. Telluride has completed that stage of the process, and has now embarked upon the next step, to set target reduction goals with the help of NSAA’s hired program consultant. Finally, TSG will begin implementation of the programs, and will monitor their successes in meeting target reduction goals.
Although the Telluride Ski Resort is still in the midst of creating its new reduction goals, Riley speculates that the Climate Challenge program will focus on reducing energy consumption in its facilities, in its restaurants, offices, and maintenance shops as well as on the hill, with reduction goals targeting snowmaking and lift operations (to which end TSG has already been utilizing new snowmaking technology that allows for more energy-efficient snowmaking).
“Now that the energy consumption within all of our different operations is fully understood, we’re now in the goal-setting phase, where we’ll be looking at what kind of reductions we’ll be shooting for in the future,” Riley explains of the process.
The ultimate goal of the Climate Challenge is to inspire action within the nation’s ski areas, but also to create a streamlined process for showing meaningful and measurable progress in the ski industry – to which Telluride, as one of the program’s original participants, will likely play an important role.
“The intent is to take this body of knowledge and create a template of best practices that other ski resorts can learn from and use,” says Riley. “We’re just proud to be a part of that small group that hopefully can make a big difference for the industry.”
In addition to providing information about energy reduction that could potentially reverberate across ski country, Riley says TSG is committed to this new program because, simply put, it fits into one of the company’s overarching goals.
As he explains; “Our staff wants to know they’re working for a company that cares about energy consumption and climate change. And we do care,” he says. “While TSG as a company probably can’t reverse climate change, we can act as a beacon, providing a good example that others can follow. It’s that leveraging that can ultimately make a positive difference.”