Sugarloaf is committed to sustainability, and we're working hard to reduce our environmental impact at every level of resort operations. Over the next few years, we'll continue to utilize a combination of cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned Maine ingenuity to increase efficiency, reduce waste and emissions, and ensure the health of our natural resources for generations to come.
Carbon Neutral by 2030
When we announced the Sugarloaf 2030 development plan it included many ambitious goals for the next ten years, but for many people one goal in particular stood out - becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This goal is part of a larger Boyne Resorts goal of carbon neutrality across the entire family of resorts.
The carbon footprint is sizeable for a resort the size of Sugarloaf. Bringing that carbon footprint down to net-zero will be a challenge, but it's one that we're up for and one that we feel we have to take on. Here's how we'll do it:
Understanding our Carbon Footprint
The first step toward neutralizing our carbon footprint is determining exactly what our carbon footprint is. To that end, our Sustainability Committee, headed by Sugarloaf Sustainability Coordinator Kate Ray, has worked to inventory all of Sugarloaf’s greenhouse gas emissions, and has joined the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Climate Challenge. The Climate Challenge is a voluntary program for ski resorts around the country, in which resorts commit to a five step process, including the calculation of total emissions, setting specific targets for carbon reductions, and reporting on those efforts. The challenge serves to hold resorts accountable in their efforts, but also to help resorts with information and resources that will help them in their initiatives.
Converting to More Efficient Sources of Energy
We've recently purchased new low energy nozzle upgrades for many of our snowguns, which has the potential to reduce annual energy consumption by as much as 38,000 kWh. Next season we plan to upgrade six times as many nozzles, which all together has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint by as much as 161 metric tons of carbon (the equivalent of 34 cars driven for an entire year). In addition, we are working with partner organizations to explore renewable energy options that can be implanted in the coming decade.
Reducing Waste and Emissions
In addition to new power sources and improved efficiency, we are also looking at the amount and types of waste we produce as a resort. Food waste is an issue for our resort, as it is for many companies and individuals around the world. To address this issue we are working toward partnerships that would allow us to reuse food waste through anaerobic digestion. This process could take all of our resort’s food waste, compost it, and use the methane byproduct to produce power. This removal of food waste from our traditional waste streams, along with the reduction of single use plastics, are key steps in addressing our overall environmental impact. In recent years we have removed plastic silverware and straws from the majority of our facilities, and in just one year kept more than 18,000 plastic straws out of landfills.
Implementing Carbon Offsets
To close the gap to carbon neutrality, we'll look beyond resort operations to offset our carbon footprint. We'll invest in projects dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the globe, ensuring our environmental impact is as small as possible.
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Kate Ray is Sugarloaf's Sustainability Coordinator. Over the past year, she has worked tirelessly to calculate the carbon footprint across all resort operations, allowing us to ramp up our sustainability efforts more effectively than ever. She has also collaborated with partners like the National Ski Areas Association to determine best practices in tackling climate change throughout the ski industry. When she's not pouring over spreadsheets or sifting through recyclables, Kate runs Dogsled Maine, the Maine Beer Shed, and Running Wild Farm with her husband Brian and their two kids, Finn and Lula. Under Kate's leadership, Sugarloaf is well-positioned to be a leader in sustainability and carbon neutral by 2030.