Vail Daily’s view: Genuinely green progress at VR | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily’s view: Genuinely green progress at VR

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-Unless it’s a powder day in Vail, Colorado, and all the lifts are running, it seems that sometimes Vail Resorts can’t win.

The company makes helmets mandatory in the interest of employee health, it puts solar panels on a mountain restaurant to experiment with renewable energy, and it sponsors dozens of community events, but its efforts often are dismissed (sometimes by this newspaper) as half-hearted or public-relations stunts.

An analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, seems to prove Vail’s use of renewable energy is far more than a bid for publicity. Vail Resorts was ranked 25th on a list of top corporate green-energy purchasers.

Vail joins major corporations such as Intel, Dell and PespiCo on the list. It actually was ahead of companies such as Lowe’s, Sprint Nextel, Motorola and the states of Wisconsin and Connecticut (the only states on the list).

Vail Resorts made the list based largely on its extensive purchases of wind-power credits at its five resorts. Buying wind-power credits has been criticized as requiring little effort on behalf of the corporation and doing little for the environment.

No one will confuse Vail Resorts with the Sierra Club, but the company is spending significant money on wind-power credits, which help fund the expansion of wind farms across the United States.

While Vail Resorts’ first priority may be to make lots of money by providing people with top-notch vacations (and providing local residents some of the best skiing in the world), the company is augmenting its use of wind power with of variety of environmental initiatives.

The company is trying to reduce its energy use by 10 percent over the next two years, has switched to more energy-efficient snowmobiles and snowmaking equipment, installed an experimental solar-panel array on the top of the Adventure Ridge building, and is even considering using water power generated by mountain creeks to run a chairlift.

Vail Resorts, of course, is entirely dependent on a healthy environment where snow is consistent, the weather is cold (but not too cold) and the trees stay green.

We, as a community, should applaud its environmental efforts while also demanding that the company continue to experiment and innovate with renewable energy.