Natural snow adds to the snowmaking underway at Sugarbush. Photo: Scott Silverstein

sThe resort is currently involved in two solar initiatives it plans to implement this winter season. The first project would appoint Sugarbush as the off-taker on six separate solar projects throughout Vermont. Green Lantern Capital out of Waterbury will develop, finance, build and maintain the solar projects. Net-metering credits associated with the projects will be transferred to Sugarbush Resort, even though the projects are located throughout the state. Under Vermont’s net-metering regulations, an electric customer can receive utility bill credits from various renewable energy projects without needing to be near the actual array. This allows Sugarbush’s electricity to be supportive of green-energy projects.

“Solar, from my point of view, makes the most sense for Vermont,” said Win Smith, president of Sugarbush Resort. “As a ski resort, we’re quite concerned with climate change and want to do everything we can to help reduce our carbon footprint.”

These projects are part of a broader initiative by Green Lantern to bring solar power and utility savings to schools, hospitals, colleges, municipal buildings and private businesses throughout Vermont.

A second solar initiative is still in the planning stages and consists of building a solar carport in Parking Lot F at Lincoln Peak in Warren. If the project is successfully permitted and financed, it will be built and maintained by Bullrock Deutsch-Eco Solar. Sugarbush would lease the land and purchase the electricity produced by the solar panels.

The resort is also working to add Tesla and Green Mountain Power charging stations for visitors with electric cars. The charging stations would be placed in Parking Lot D, with long-term plans to move the stations closer to the base area in a future phase of base area development.

This season, the resort added another 50 HKD and Snow Logic low-energy snow guns to its snowmaking fleet. Last season, the resort invested in 414 snow guns that contributed to a 13 percent reduction in snowmaking energy-consumption, saving close to 1,700 megawatt hours and approximately 21 percent in costs compared to the previous year.

This winter season will also begin the implementation of a new four-stream waste receptacle to increase the resort’s diversion rate for recyclables, food scraps, liquids and trash. Sugarbush purchased the receptacle with a grant from Sustainable Slopes, a National Ski Areas Association program aimed at funding sustainability projects and improving climate adaption at U.S. ski areas.

The grant is expected to help the resort meet its goal of reaching a 50 percent diversion rate (waste kept out of landfills) in three years and in turn reach its NSAA Climate Challenge goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5 percent. Sugarbush plans to implement these waste receptacles all around the resort, beginning with cafeterias and food and beverage outlets – the largest generators of waste.

Earlier this year, Sugarbush received a Green Mountain Award for Environmental Excellence from the Vermont Ski Areas Association. The resort was recognized with the award for Most Improved Waste Reduction – the resort’s recyclables measure 33.3 percent of total waste and compost measure 12.8 tons. This winter will mark the resort’s fifth full year of organics diversion.

Along with reductions in energy and waste, Sugarbush is committed to the environment in other ways: Timbers Restaurant is a member of 1% For The Planet, a global collection of businesses pledging 1 percent of revenues to environmental causes; all off-road diesel machinery at the resort uses biodiesel fuel whenever possible; the resort is a voluntary member of the NSAA Climate Challenge; and the resort works closely with numerous environmental partners including the U.S. Forest Service, Catamount Trail Association, Green Mountain Club, Mad River Watershed Conservation Partnership, Friends of the Mad River, Mad River Path Association, Mad River Valley Planning District and Vermont Business Environmental Partnership.