Taos Ski Valley announced on Tuesday that it has been certified carbon neutral by Climate Impact Partners, an organization that brings together international companies with the goal of reducing one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.
But Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden said the designation was just the beginning.
“We… know it’s not the end of the world, is it.” It’s a process we’re working on,” Norden said. “But it’s an important first step.”
Taos Ski Valley is the first ski company to receive certification from Climate Impact Partners, although Norden notes that two other ski resorts – Ruka in Finland and Wild Mountain in Minnesota – have also announced they are at net zero.
Carbon neutrality does not mean that Taos Ski has completely reduced its emissions, just that the ski company has made investments in renewable energy that offset its carbon footprint. However, Norden said the station is also working to reduce, rather than just offset, its greenhouse gas output.
Norden joined Taos Ski Valley six years ago and said the resort has undergone a “major revitalization” in recent years, including adding more sustainable operating practices. The Blake Hotel, which opened in 2017, was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building standards, and is heated and cooled using renewable geothermal energy. The resort’s chairlifts and snowmaking operations are powered by daytime solar power provided by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. Additionally, the resort is working to electrify its fleet of snowmobiles and vehicles, including the first electric snow groomer used by a North American ski resort.
Becoming carbon neutral, Norden said, has helped the resort identify exactly how much greenhouse gas the ski area is producing and where to reduce emissions.
“Fleet electrification, I mean, is kind of one of those kind of low-hanging fruits that you can really put some effort into,” Norden said. “But you can start seeing exactly where your emissions are and start taking different components one at a time 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.
“It prompted us to focus much of our work on environmental and social responsibility,” Norden said. “And then it’s just another step in this work.”
Although he stresses that all companies should look at their impact on the climate, Norden said the ski industry is particularly aware of climate change from first-hand experience.
“Across the business, resorts are experiencing a shorter operating season due to less snow and less winter, if you will, and resorts are seeing more heavy weather events that impact on their operations, whether it’s excessive wind or things like that,” Norden says. “So, you know, we’re seeing first-hand the impacts of climate change on the business.”