As the vanguard state for "green living," as well as home to plentiful mountaintops for skiing and riding, it should come as no surprise that Vermont is home to the first ski resort in the U.S. to earn the Sustainable Community Certification from Audubon International. Stowe Mountain Resort now merits this environmental achievement.
As a member of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program, the ski resort is now 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,”said Suzi Zakowski, manager of the Sustainable Communities Program.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s accomplishments include:
Food Sourcing: The resort has championed to support 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 percent of vendors provide 100 percent locally produced agricultural, artisanal and other similar products that are produced locally.
Rural Heritage: To maintain the “look and feel” of Mt. Mansfield and the Smugglers Notch region, Stowe has worked with Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and Audubon International to utilize only a small percentage of available land in its development efforts.
Economic Development & Tourism: The resort provides outdoor educational experience and training for resort guests, hosts an annual on site fieldtrip and workshop focused on water quality management for the Stowe Elementary School fifth grade class, and ensures 39 percent of all vendors outside of food and beverage are located in New England and Vermont.
Outreach & Education: In 2009, the Resort established an Environmental Advisory Committee to assist the resort’s Planning Director with the identification of potential additional environmental actions. Over 20 Articles have been published in the internal newsletter for employees. The Employee Handbook has been revised to include more content describing the resort’s environmental efforts. SMR currently partners with groups to provide access for environmental education forums and public seminars (such as birding events, Stowe Garden Fest, and nature walks).
Environment & Wildlife: 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.
Water Quality: 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 both snowmaking and golf course irrigation. The mountain trail system is managed under management plan directed at improving the hydrologic characteristics of the trail system.
Energy & Resource Use Efficiency: Since 2000, the resort 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.
Transportation: 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 three or more individuals. Stowe 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 percent increase in ridership in 2009.
Waste Reduction: The new Spruce Camp Base Lodge established a food composting program for its kitchen and is currently expanding this program to its public areas. In 2009, the Stowe food composting program resulted in a landfill diversion rate of over 84 percent for the new Stowe Mountain Lodge.