Vail’s net zero promise: Hold them to it AND help them get there | ParkRecord.com

Vail’s net zero promise: Hold them to it AND help them get there

The Park Record editorial, July 26-28, 2017

This week, Vail Resorts announced its intention to achieve a net zero operating footprint by 2030. It is an admirable goal in an energy- and resource- hungry industry. It is also a bright contrast to our federal administration's dreary retreat from environmental stewardship.

Like Park City and Summit County, and many other communities around the country, Vail Resorts is raising its environmental standards, even as the nation's leadership defaults on its commitments to the Paris Accord and its own constituents.

According to the company's press release, the initiative has three basic tenets: to offset 100 percent of its emissions by conserving energy and shifting to renewable energy resources; to stop sending waste to the landfill by increasing recycling and composting; and to minimize the operating impact of its resorts through direct efforts like tree planting and habitat restoration and, indirectly, by continuing to support conservation organizations.

The company is also planning to educate and engage its guests, employees and vendors in the massive effort.

The concept of a ski resort conglomerate like Vail Resorts promising to zero-out its impact may draw guffaws from some. The ski industry by nature is intrusive — operating in extreme weather conditions on fragile landscapes, it is energy consumptive and draws human activity into terrain otherwise inhabited only by wildlife. In that regard, as ski town residents and guests, we are all complicit.

So we are grateful for Vail's willingness to play a leadership role in resolving our own collective guilt.

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The same goes for Park City Municipal and Summit County which are championing similarly challenging environmental goals — despite the lack of support from state and federal agencies.

As Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts said on Tuesday regarding his company's commitment: "The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it.”

And as Vail Resorts' partner in the success of our own community, we all have a vested interest in helping them achieve this lofty, net zero goal.