Sustainability efforts building in Vail
April 21, 2014
VAIL — The 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships could be a showcase for Vail's sustainability programs. So could the town's summer farmers market.
Vail Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Kristen Bertuglia and Kim Langmaid, of the Walking Mountain Science Center, recently talked to the Vail Town Council about a couple of programs that are currently building momentum — "Actively Green by 2015" and the "Zero Hero" program for the market.
The Actively Green program intends to help reduce the town's energy use by a combination of steps including reducing carbon emissions, reducing waste and using locally-made and U.S.-made products as much as possible.
Langmaid said the program's intent is to establish the Vail Valley as a leader among resort communities in sustainability efforts.
The idea, Langmaid said, is to make sustainability both environmentally sound and popular in the marketplace.
"Travelers are looking for sustainable places," she said, adding that many large businesses these days use community sustainability efforts as part of their criteria for choosing conference locations.
The ultimate goal, she said, is to have 100 valley businesses trained and certified in a "sustainable destination" program. Vail would be the first North American resort to achieve that level of participation.
Zero Hero Program
The Zero Hero effort is similar, if a bit different. The town has been working with vendors at the farmers market to increase recycling, composting and reducing waste.
Last summer, a group of volunteers and interns worked with vendors to help provide advice about composting and recycling, which included guidance about using recyclable or compostable plates, cups and utensils. The goal for the market is to keep 75 percent of the waste out of the county landfill, which will help Vail achieve its overarching goal of diverting 25 percent or more of its waste.
"We'd be amazing if we could do it," Langmaid said. "It's really a philosophy to strive for."
While keeping material out of the landfill extends its useful life, keeping compostable material out of the mix also helps landfills reduce their methane emissions.
Like the Actively Green efforts, the Zero Hero project appears popular with visitors and residents. Langmaid said 93 percent of people surveyed at the market at the end of the summer said they'd like to see waste-reduction efforts at other town events, too.
Council member Dave Chapin, one of the owners of Vendetta's restaurant, said he'd like to know more about composting and where the material might end up.
"It's a huge issue — we're just at the tip of the iceberg now," Chapin said.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2930.