How Can a Ski Resort Adapt to Sustainability: Dallas Addison Says They Can, Are, and Have To

AspenA week or so ago, our contributor Dallas Addison, an attorney and vacation home property developer/consultant, gave us the Aspen report and said that vacation home communities are getting greener, more sustainable, because they have to to stay in business.

I called BS; how, I asked Dallas, can you even tell me that a ski company is green except when the snow is all melted on the slopes? EasyL the resorts know they HAVE to become more sustainable IF they are to stay in business…

SS: OK Dallas, a ski company uses water and sometimes makes snow — how do they even start to be sustainable?

D.A: Great question and I’m fairly certain that Aspen would be the first to acknowledge that they are in a resource intensive business. But, they are not going to shut that business down, so the question is how do they become more sustainable? Aspen is doing that through a number of initiatives in addition to using their brand to help spread the word about sustainability. Their website does a good job of highlighting their environmental efforts.

SS: Can these resorts use alternative energy sources?

D.A: Absolutely, and that is happening. Sticking with Aspen, they’ve invested in a solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, developed a micro-hydroelectric plant at Snowmass and partnered with a coal mine to capture and utilize methane gas that is normally vented into the atmosphere during the mining process. On the coal mine project, the methane is much more worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and through this process, the methane is cleaned and used. It provides enough energy to power all 4 Aspen resort mountains on an annual basis.

SS: What are the three biggest changes you are seeing in terms of conservation efforts at these swanky resorts?

1. Communications to guests. Resorts are increasingly communicating the importance of sustainability to their guests.

2. Energy efficiency. This is generally considered the low hanging fruit. Projects that conserve energy (think changing light bulbs as one of the most basic and effective) are generally the easiest to pencil out and explain to others in the corporate hierarchy.

3. Building efficiency. Related to #2, but more directed at new construction, resorts are increasingly changing their building practices to construct more efficient buildings. They often try to attain certain objective standards, such as LEED certification by the US Green Building Council.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to