Environmental Policy Statement
As stewards of an exceptional mountain environment, Bear Valley Mountain is committed to providing quality outdoor recreation experiences. Our staff and guests realize Bear Valley is a priceless natural treasure. We strive to continually improve our environmental performance in order to provide enjoyment of Bear Valley Mountain for future generations of snow and mountain enthusiasts.
Bear Valley Mountain is an active member of the National Ski Area Association’s Sustainable Slopes program. This voluntary program shows our dedication to improving our environmental policy creation and implementation. The NSAA has created a thorough set of environmental guidelines specific to operating a ski area, and an industry meeting point for trading new ideas. By sharing our knowledge and experience we can improve our mountain operation and improve the industry as a whole. (www.nsaa.org)
We are also monitored by the Great Basin Air Quality Resources Board, California Air Resource Board, Alpine County Health Dept, California Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Forest Service and the California Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies monitor and track many of our environmental compliance requirements.
Purchasing Renewable Energy
Bear Valley Mountain has established a contract with Renewable Choice Energy and is purchasing Green-e Certified Clean Source power. This third party certified carbon neutral electricity comes from solar and wind generation plants all over the American West. Operating the chairlifts is one of our highest areas of electrical usage and reducing that carbon foot print by purchasing renewable energy to run the chairlifts is one of the most important aspects of our Environmental Plan. Additionally, we are purchasing clean power to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions for snowmaking as well, thereby taking several steps to off set our energy usage. As of the 09-10 season, 66% of the electricity we use has been from a certified clean source. This year we will prevent more than 450 tons of CO2 from being produced therefore combating global warming. By the beginning of the 2010-11 season we will be purchasing 100% clean power for all the lifts, facilities and snowmaking! From there on, we will be preventing at least 711 tons of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year! (www.renewablechoice.org)
Additionally, Bear Valley Mountain has completely offset (100%) the carbon impacts of the main day lodge. We have enrolled in PG&E’s Climate Smart Program. This exciting program allows PG&E customers to invest in carbon offsets equal to how much CO2 their home or business creates. Climate Smart invests in new independently certified greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in California. These projects include restoring native redwood forests and capturing methane gas from dairy farms, just to list a couple. (www.joinclimatesmart.org)
We recently commissioned an independent Energy Design Resources Team to perform an energy audit of all lighting fixtures aimed at our two largest consumers of energy, the Day Lodge and the Vehicle Maintenance Shop. As a result of this audit, we have committed to make the recommended changes in two phases. The first phase will retrofit all of the lighting in the Vehicle Maintenance Shop. This project will be completed by mid January and it is estimated to reduce our annual energy use from 56,000 kw down to 29,000kw or 46%. The actual results will then be monitored to gage the success of the energy reductions and based off of those findings, Phase 2 would be scheduled for the following season. Phase 2 will be a similar upgrade to all Day Lodge lighting. This upgrade will reduce the Day Lodge kw usage by 55%.
Our fleet of snowmaking guns has been vastly improved with last year’s purchase of 12 new energy efficient guns. These new technologically advanced units replaced 12 out dated and inefficient snow guns. These new guns use 30% less electricity to make a better quality snow. A computerized weather monitoring system is connected directly to the snowmaking system to make micro adjustments as small changes in weather occur. We use a variable frequency drive (VFD) to pump water from the town reservoir up to our snowmaking pond at the summit of the mountain. The VFD allows for the minimum energy usage for the maximum water flow. From the summit pond, the snowmaking system is gravity fed to over 90% of the snowmaking locations using essentially no electricity to pump the water through the distribution system. The snowmaking system generally operates in the beginning of the season to around the first of the year, but improving the power and water efficiency curves can make a big difference in reducing our environmental impacts.
We are continuing to update our snowmobile fleet with four stroke models. Currently, about 40% of the snowmobile fleet has been refreshed with four stroke models. These new machines are quiet, powerful, and very fuel efficient. The most recent addition to the fleet is a Ski Doo Skandic with a Rotax 4 stroke engine, you’ll see it being utilized by the Ski Patrol. This powerful all mountain machine has an EPA Normalized Emission Rating of nearly zero. It is the most efficient four stroke snowmobile available. While only 40% of our fleet of snowmobiles is four strokes now, we plan to continue replacing the older models as necessary and financially feasible.
Bear Valley operates a variety of machines and equipment. The snowcats, several company trucks, snow removal equipment and the backup power units for the chairlifts all operate on diesel. This year we are using a B10 Biodiesel fuel blend. The 08/09 season was the first season for Biodiesel which replaced 55% of all diesel used on the mountain. In the 2010 season Biodiesel will be increasing it to 75% of total annually used. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel source made from plant oils and used cooking oil. Embracing this technology adds to the list of things we are doing to share in combating global warming to save our winters.
Last March we established the new anti-idling campaign for all diesel vehicles to reduce emissions from resort vehicles. This includes reminder stickers located in prominent locations to remind the drivers not to needlessly idle. Many of the newer snowcats have tattletale systems to monitor how much idle time a cat may have had during a working shift.
Employee Incentives to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
Every day of the winter season, Bear Valley Mountain operates an employee shuttle bus. This bus carries staff 32 miles to and from the mountain from the towns of Avery, Arnold, Dorrington and Camp Connell to Bear Valley. The bus is free for employees and encourages up to 60 people to use the shuttle every day of the season. During the regular season the bus is mostly full on weekends, holidays and when the road conditions warrant vehicle restrictions. In the event that there are more than 60 people, an additional bus will be added to the route. In the off season Bear Valley Mountain offers additional car pool opportunities to its summer employees by allowing a company vehicle to be used when it contains four or more occupants.
Employee Driven Environmental Fund: Bear Valley Mountain has created an opportunity for employees to support local environmental organizations through charitable donations. Every dollar contributed will be matched by the company up to $1000. We are specifically looking to support environmental organizations that have a focus or significant program in the highway 4 area. This season we will donate $1000.00 to the Foot Hills Conservancy. www.foothillsconservancy.com
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Recycling waste in the lodge and on the mountain is and has been in full swing. We collect aluminum, plastic and glass containers from the public areas in and around the lodge, as well as key locations on the mountain. In house recycling is even more thorough; paper, cardboard and drink containers are all collected and recycled. We will renew our efforts this season to maximize our mixed recycling container allowing more opportunities to reduce the waste stream to the landfill. In addition to recycling material after use, we have a purchasing policy that demands minimum 30% recycled content in all office paper.
Our purchasing efforts include the reduction of plastic by not buying any singles drink units that can be substituted with a fountain type drink. In other word, we do not sell a bottle of Pepsi if you can purchase it in a cup from the fountain machines. In the Monte Wolfe Saloon we have initiated several waste stream reduction efforts. Among this is the Mug Club, here we allocate space for 150 personalize mugs drastically reducing plastic cup use. The plastic cups we use in Saloon are made up of corn starch and are completely biodegradable. Through the use of draft products we have eliminated all but three of brands glass bottles, reducing glass by 70%. All remaining glass and plastic products from the Saloon are recycled. This alone has reduced or diverted well over 40% of our waste stream to the landfill.
In the F&B Operations all grease and fryer oils are saved in a special container and picked up by a waste oil recycler. The Vehicle Maintenance shop and Lift Maintenance work with a waste oil recycler to recycle 100% of oils produced from the vehicle an engine services.
Last summer(2009) during the Mid Mountain Lodge remodel, Bear Valley Mountain reused 65% the lumber, display cases, windows and doors. Keeping 100’s of pounds of construction materials from entering the land fill. Additionally, when old lights and light fixtures were replace in the remodel the newer high efficiency T4 and T9 lights were installed.
The maintenance shops have recycling containers for all the scrape metals including steel, copper and aluminum. These containers are picked up and taken to a center in the Stockton area to be melted down and reused.
The impacts of road building in an alpine environment are myriad. Over the years many maintenance related roads have been created and with those roads comes the social network of trails that the general public created. Bear Valley Mountain is in the process of doing an inventory of the established maintenance roads and will designate all unnecessary roads and trails for reclamation. Bear Valley Mountain will at its own expense close, reclaim and re-vegetate roads and trails not needed for essential use.
Opportunity to Reduce Your Carbon Foot Print
Bear Valley Mountain has partnerships with Valley and Bay Area businesses to sponsor coach style buses to come up and enjoy the mountains. Mel Cottons sport shop, and Helm of Sun Valley sport shops organize fun and economical trips from the San Jose area.
The Future of the Mountains
Ski areas have taken tremendous steps to reduce our own GHG emissions. Many resorts are generating renewable energy on site through the application of wind, solar, geothermal and micro-hyrdo technology. Resorts are also purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs), applying energy-efficient green building techniques, retrofitting existing facilities to save energy, using alternative fuels in resort vehicle fleets, and providing or promoting car pooling or mass transit use by guests and employees. While we believe we are a relatively small source of greenhouse gas emissions, we recognize the need to educate others on the importance of reducing our foot print on the environment and that we will need the help of many other industries to counter act the climate change reality that we all share.