The environmental footprint of the resort you’re skiing in is often an overlooked contributor to the overall environmental impact of your holiday. According to a study produced on behalf of the French snowsports industry, the resort footprint can account for up to 32% of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by your skiing holiday.
Unlike other areas considered by the study, these emissions stem from a range of sources, namely from where power is drawn to operate the resort, the food served in the resort, and infrastructure provided by the resort.
Nearly ten per cent of greenhouse gas emissions generated on you skiing holiday can be directly attributed to the food available in restaurants and hotels, both via large direct contributions such as from the meat and dairy industry, and indirect contributions like the air miles generated to transport food to the resort – avocados grown and flown in from the Americas are a classic example of this. By more carefully considering what you eat or choosing a hotel or restaurant based on their menu options, you can make a dent in this 10%.
Much of the remaining 20% is attributed to the infrastructure operated by the resort, including vehicles such as piste bashers and shuttle buses, operating lifts, and operation of personal vehicles in resort.
Resorts are waking up to the impact of their services on the local and wider environment. Electric vehicles are beginning to appear on snow and roads, including some of the world’s first electric piste bashers. Larger resorts have long striven to keep private vehicles from resorts too, operating free shuttle buses to help people move around resort; some are now going a step further, with Tignes aiming to be completely free of private vehicles in the future. In order to achieve this, they have begun demolishing some areas of car parks in the resort.
The Ski Club highlights resorts that are considered environmentally friendly by third party organisations and certification programmes. These include the Flocon Vert (Green Snowflake) award, B-Corp certification, and recent recipients of the National Ski Area Association’s Golden Eagle awards for sustainability.
All of these programmes recognise comprehensive efforts to improve the sustainability of a resort beyond simply reducing greenhouse gas emissions; this can include social efforts such as paying all staff a fair wage, wider environmental projects like protecting endangered local species, and economic measures to ensure there is a future for resort areas regardless of the climate in the future.
In some exceptional circumstances, where resorts are not eligible for these awards – primarily for geographical reasons – the Ski Club may deem a resort to be “environmentally sustainable” in a manner comparative with these programmes.
Head to our resort pages now to find sustainable ski resorts.
The Flocon Vert programme – French for “Green Snowflake” – highlights French resorts that have met 20 criteria to be considered “sustainable”. Alongside targets relating to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, resorts must also consider:
Full details on the scheme can be found – in French only – on the Flocon Vert website
B-Corp certification is available for any business, not just those in the outdoor industry. In fact, it is one of the world’s foremost programmes for companies to follow to become more environmentally sustainable. In order to reach B-Corp certification, a company must …
meet high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.
This includes environmental performance across all areas of the business, as well as demonstrating commitments to social change by changing their corporate structure.
The US National Ski Area Association awards the Golden Eagle award to sustainable ski resorts at the NSAA awards. Whilst criteria vary year-to-year, winning resorts have demonstrated a universal commitment to reducing their environmental impact with demonstrable results. The Ski Club indicates those resorts who have won the Golden Eagle award in the previous three years.
When planning where to go, consider the following: