Ski areas in the U.S. continue to implement innovative energy conservation measures and environmental practices to reduce energy consumption and the effects of climate change. Killington Resort in Vermont strives and continues to exceed customer expectations as a steward in the battle against climate change.
Recently, Killington announced its intention to install solar arrays at Pico Mountain with 56 kilowatts (kW DC) of solar panels on the Pico Base Lodge and Administration building, to be financed and constructed by the Green Lantern Group. In addition, tracker solar panels that move to maintain the optimum angle with the sun will be located at six sites around the resort with three trackers at each site. Power from these systems will be sent back to the electric company (net metering), with net-metering credits generated by the solar panels applied to reduce Pico Mountain’s electricity expenditures.
The Cow Power program is a unique form of producing energy whereby about a dozen Vermont farmers use cow manure at their farms in an anaerobic digester system to generate electricity to sell to Green Mountain Power, and Killington purchases 1,125,000 kWh annually of this energy to power the K-1 Gondola and the Peak Lodge.
In 2007, the resort converted 12 walk-in coolers to Freeaire Refrigeration, which uses outside air to refrigerate the coolers instead of using high energy consuming compressors. Smart.
Killington has been recycling for years and now recycles 100 tons of waste annually. It uses 50,000 pounds of 100% recycled certified paper products annually. Killington trail maps and guest guides have been printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
An innovative design to use recycled waste water systems in the restroom facilities is employed at the six Killington base lodges saving up to 35,000 gallons of fresh water each day during peak days. Since 1987, when the water conservation system was installed, about 62 million gallons of fresh water have been conserved!
On transportation, Killington participates in the Marble Valley Regional Transportation District. Current resort-related ridership on “The Bus” exceeds 375,000 one way trips annually including 75,000 commuter and employee related trips. In 2014, two ChargePoint stations for electric cars were installed at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel with dedicated spaces open to all guests. There are also plans to have two Tesla Destination Charging stations (at the Snowshed and Skyeship areas) installed prior to the 2017-18 ski season.
Killington purchased 400 new energy-efficient snow guns as a part of Efficiency Vermont’s Great Snow Gun Roundup in 2014, an investment of snow guns valued at over $2 million, which required that for every five energy-efficient snow guns purchased, four less efficient snow guns be scrapped. Killington retired 317 snow guns in a variety of styles and added 396 new guns to its fleet.
Killington added 150 new tower bases for these more efficient snow guns and mounting guns on towers allows for more “hang time” in snowmaking, adding to efficiency and output while reducing noise for skiers and providing a more authentic snowfall experience. Dave Lacombe, snow surfaces manager for Killington Resort commented, “Modern, energy-efficient snow guns require up to 85% less energy to operate than older snow gun models, and the new snow guns represent the most advanced, energy-efficient technology available.”
One standard diesel-powered air compressor used for snowmaking produces 1600 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM). Older snow guns use 600 CFM, while new energy-efficient guns use 8-26 CFM, allowing for far more snow guns to be powered by a single compressor. To further improve sustainability, all Killington diesel compressors have Tier 4 engines that use cleaner burning fuel and have increased energy efficiency overall.
Killington’s projected direct savings for the season associated with the new snow guns totaled 1,453,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, 84,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 3,452,000 pounds of carbon emissions and roughly $470,000…and that’s a return on investment in about a year and a half.
Eco-Active Practices Impact
Killington Resort is one of the ski areas leading the way to reduce energy consumption and many more ski areas and other industries can employ the commitment to such practices as exemplified at Killington.
Roger Lohr is the founder and editor of XCSkiResorts.com and prolific national writer on cross country skiing. He lives in Lebanon, NH.