Vail Resorts makes progress on net zero operating goals |

Vail Resorts makes progress on net zero operating goals

The company released the results of its latest EpicPromise Progress Report

In June 2020, the Plum Creek Wind project, which Vail Resorts enabled, came online. This electricity, plus energy from local renewable programs, addressed 85% of the company’s North American electricity use during 2020-21.
Vail Resorts/Courtesy photo

Vail Resorts’ 34 North American mountains have reached 85% renewable electricity — taking it one step closer to achieving a zero net operating footprint by 2030. Through its operations, as well as by promoting collective participation, Vail Resorts said it is prioritizing efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Released this week, Vail Resorts’ 2020-21 EpicPromise Progress Report tracks the company’s commitment to preserving the environment, addressing the needs of mountain communities and supporting its employees. Major achievements over the past year include:

  • Vail Resorts is on track to reach zero net emissions by 2030. The Plum Creek wind farm the company enabled has been producing clean electricity since June 2020, allowing Vail Resorts to reach 85% renewable electricity across its 34 North American resorts this year. That number is expected to rise again in 2023, after the Elektron Solar project comes online, which broke ground October.
  • The company donated $19.4 million to 150 local organizations working to address the top priorities of the communities where Vail Resorts operates — from supporting needs like food and housing assistance and child care, to youth access programs and forest health.
  • The EpicPromise Employee Foundation provided $1.72 million in emergency relief grants and scholarships to team members, including $440,000 in educational scholarships for employees and their dependents. This included $93,921 in educational scholarships in Eagle County.

“Vail Resorts has remained dedicated to protecting the environment, supporting our employees, and investing in our mountain communities, even amid unprecedented challenges,” said Kirsten Lynch, the new chief executive officer at Vail Resorts, in a statement. “With the release of our fourth annual EpicPromise Progress Report, Vail Resorts achieved industry-leading sustainability progress, expanded access to the outdoors for those who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, and supported our employees through unexpected challenges and continued education. Our company’s core values serve as our roadmap as we continue to advance our bold goals together, toward a healthy, inclusive and more sustainable future.”

In Eagle County, Vail Resorts donated $3,209,783 to 24 organizations working to support youth and family critical need (YouthPower365, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley and Suicide Prevention Coalition of Eagle County), access (SOS Outreach and Small Champions), community vitality (Colorado Mountain College Foundation) and the environment (Walking Mountain Science School, Eagle Valley Land Trust and Eagle River Watershed Council).

Additionally, through guest donations via pass purchases, Eagle County received a portion of the $1,578,888 donation to the National Forest Foundation, as well a portion of guest donations to The Nature Conservancy.

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Commitment to zero

Vail Resorts launched Commitment to Zero in 2017 — a goal to achieve a zero net operating footprint by 2030 through zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill and zero net operating impact on forests and habitat. The company remains on track to reach each of these pillars.

In addition to its Plum Creek Wind project coming online and despite the temporary switch to single-use items to help keep guests and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company composted and recycled 9.8 million pounds of waste and reduced total waste by 483 tons compared to the previous season.

In April, Vail Resorts joined over 400 companies urging the Biden administration to commit the U.S. to an emissions reduction target of at least 50% by 2030.

In June, alongside Alterra Mountain Co., Boyne Resorts and POWDR, Vail Resorts announced the Climate Collaborative Charter, the ski industry’s first unified effort to combat climate change with shared commitments around sustainability and advocacy.

Mountain communities

In Eagle County, Vail Resorts donated $3,209,783 to 24 organizations working to support critical needs in the community.
Chris McLennan, Vail Resorts/Courtesy Photo

Vail Resorts’ Community Impact program is designed to support the most pressing needs of the mountain communities where the company operates.

The $19.4 million in donations also included $9.4 million in products and services to make skiing and snowboarding more accessible through both adaptive and youth programs.

In spite of the challenges presented by the pandemic, this past year nearly 3,500 kids were safely provided with on-mountain access, including free lift tickets, rentals and ski school through Vail Resorts’ partnerships with youth development programs. Vail Resorts is committed to expanding its youth development programs to all 34 North American resorts, reaching 10,000 participants by 2024.

Employee support

Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise Employee Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves the company’s employees through emergency relief grants and educational scholarships. In the 2020-21 season, $852,000 was provided in emergency relief grants for employees experiencing an unplanned emergency or crisis, including, for example, illness, emergency travel and support for temporary shelter following natural disaster.

When the Caldor Fire displaced employees due to mandatory evacuations at Heavenly and Kirkwood this summer, the foundation provided $429,000 to 550 employees and their families to assist with food access and temporary housing costs.

In addition to supporting employees financially, the company saw ongoing utilization of its Epic Wellness program, which provides mental, physical and financial resources for team members. Epic Wellness Mind ensures mental health resources are destigmatized, easily accessible and practical for Vail Resorts team members and their household members. Plus, since 2015, the company has driven a 260% increase in therapy consultations.

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