Wins Sustainability Slopes Grant
New ownership arrived at Wild Mountain Ski and Snowboard Area in the summer of 2020 with an eye on reducing the resort’s carbon footprint.
Less that eight months later they were officially certified as carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners, one of the nation’s leading renewable energy partnership organizations. Natural Capital Partners works with companies and organizations all over the world to help them achieve their renewable energy goals, including carbon neutrality.
“We wanted to try to incorporate these planet positive changes as part of our mission statement,” said Wild Mountain Inc. President Sara Larsen. “It’s who we are as business owners. We want to be environmental stewards, and we feel it’s our responsibility to do this.”
Carbon neutral certification does not mean a company ceases to emit carbon. It means the amount of carbon they emit is equal to the amount of carbon they offset by some other method. When you achieve carbon neutrality, you have a net neutral impact on the environment.
“There are going to be unavoidable emissions that you can’t necessarily eliminate completely,” Larsen said.
The first step in the process is to measure these unavoidable emissions. A company’s total emissions are known as their carbon footprint. Once the footprint is measured, organizations like Natural Capital Partners help companies invest in outside renewable energy projects, until those investments balance with the business’ total emissions.
Wild Mountain financially supported Seneca Meadows Landfill Gas Project in New York, which captures methane gas from the largest non-hazardous solid waste facility in the state. The facility generates enough electricity to power over 18,000 homes. In addition to this investment, Wild Mountain also implemented environmentally conscious practices at the resort to help achieve carbon neutrality.
“We worked with our food and beverage team to measure how many single use plastic items we were using,” Larsen said. “It was kind of astounding. We eliminated 280,000 pieces of single use plastic waste over the past year, just by using reusable silverware and other food service items.”
Where they couldn’t completely eliminate single use items, the resort transitioned to compostable plastics and materials. With all of these projects combined, the company was able to achieve their goal of carbon neutrality in January of 2021.
For these efforts and their other environmental awareness projects, the National Ski Areas Association recently awarded the 2021 Sustainability Slopes Grant to Wild Mountain. The grant partners with HKD snowmakers, who will gift Wild Mountain two low-energy snowmakers valued at $30,000.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Larsen said. “We’re actually looking at converting a lot of our snowmaking fleet to these machines so this is going to give us a good head start on that.”
Larsen said the certification and the grant are important to her both as a business owner and as a consumer looking for environmentally responsible companies.
“For me as a consumer I find it important to support businesses that are making positive changes. I think it’s good business,” she said. “We have a lot of eco-connected guests and I think they’re expecting good environmental policies, so we want to deliver on that.”