Taos Ski Valley announced Tuesday that it has been certified carbon neutral by Climate Impact Partners, an organization that brings together international companies with the goal of reducing 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2030.
But Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden said the designation is just the beginning.
“We … know that it’s not the end-all be-all, right. This is a process that we’re working through,” Norden said. “But it’s a great first milestone step.”
Taos Ski Valley is the first ski corporation given the certification by Climate Impact Partners, although Norden notes that two other ski resorts – Ruka in Finland and Wild Mountain in Minnesota – announced that they are net-zero as well.
Carbon neutral doesn’t mean that Taos Ski has fully cut its emissions, just that the ski corporation has made investments in renewable energy that offset its carbon footprint. However, Norden said the resort is also working to reduce, rather than just offset, its greenhouse gas production.
Norden joined Taos Ski Valley six years ago, and said the resort has gone through a “major revitalization” in the past years – including adding more sustainable operating practices. The Blake Hotel, which opened in 2017, was built according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building standards, and is heated and cooled with renewable geothermal power. The resort’s chairlifts and snowmaking operations are powered by daytime solar provided by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. And, the resort is working on electrifying its fleet of snowmobiles and vehicles – including the first electric snow groomer used by a North American ski resort.
Going carbon neutral, Norden said, helped the resort identify exactly how much greenhouse gas the ski area is producing and areas to cut emissions.
“The electrification of the fleet, I mean, that’s kind of one of those low-hanging fruit types of things that you can really put some effort into,” Norden said. “But you can start to see exactly where your emissions are and start to take different components one by one to reduce those emissions.”
Taos Ski Valley became the first ski resort designated as a B corporation in 2017, a certification that indicates a company’s commitment to social and environmental goals.
“That set us in motion to focus a lot of our work on things around environmental and social responsibility,” Norden said. “And then this is just another step in that in that work.”
Although he emphasizes that all businesses should be looking at their climate impact, Norden said the ski industry is particularly aware of climate change from first-hand experience.
“Across the business, resorts are seeing the shorter operating season due to less snow, and less winter, if you will, and resorts are seeing more heavy duty weather events that are impact their operations, whether it’s excessive wind or things like that,” Norden said. “So you know, we are seeing the impacts of climate change firsthand on the business.”