At Stevens Pass, innovation means continually striving to develop and implement new conservation ideas and strategies, encouraging creative solutions, seizing opportunities for research, and supporting new environmental technology. We never want to say we’ve done enough. Here are a few programs we think fit that description, and that demonstrate creative solutions to conservation.
100% Windpower – See our dedicated Windpower page.
“SkiGreen Carbon Offsets” – Guests can help keep winter cool by purchasing their own SkiGreen carbon offset credits; see our Windpower page.
Solar Power – After experimenting with some very small-scale pilot solar projects around the mountain, we commissioned a technical survey and selected a site for a much larger installation in the summer of 2013. At the top of the Skyline Chair, a separate tower now supports an 8-panel, 2 kilowatt solar PV array. Since it is connected to the power grid, we will accrue production credits from our electric utility to apply towards our consumption, and we’ll make about $1,500/year in income from the State. Soon we will install an interpretive panel onsite to explain the project - stop by to check it out!
New Environment & Sustainability Division – Launched in 2007, we have a new division that focuses solely on long-range planning, near-term sustainability issues, and the reduction of overall environmental impacts from our resort operations. Only a handful of ski areas nationwide have any staff dedicated to these important tasks, and we are proud to be one of them.
Wastewater Quality – In 2004, the Stevens Pass Sewer District won the Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Water Conservation from the National Ski Areas Association. The Stevens Pass Sewer District instituted a $7.5 million program that developed and installed new state-of-the-art technology – called a “membrane bioreactor” (MBR) wastewater system – which produces a high-quality outflow that exceeds all Washington Department of Ecology requirements.
Switching to E-Business Systems – In 2008 we implemented a massive overhaul of our paper-based sales, ticketing, and rental systems using a cutting-edge electronic tracking system (RFID). This means quicker access through the gates for guests, fewer duplicate receipts, and less paperwork across the resort. For example, in our busy rental shop, this move alone reduced paper usage by 66%! Before this system was implemented, the amount of triplicate forms used each season would stretch 35 miles if lined up end-to-end. In addition, our lift tickets and discount cards will no longer be single-use paper products, but instead re-loadable, durable plastic versions, useable (even washable) for years. This system also allows very targeted marketing, which will be conducted mostly by email, thereby further reducing waste.
Saving Heat – We’re always trying out new ways to save energy, or capture unused resources. We’ve begun to duct the waste heat from the condensers above walk-in coolers and freezers into public spaces and away from kitchen areas. This has delivered a 15˚F drop in temperatures at the ceiling, fewer equipment failures thanks to reduced on/off cycling, and more comfortable working conditions. All that for a few hundred dollars, and two days of work!
Saving Fuel – For several years we have been an early supporter of, and investor in, a new 35% more efficient snow groomer technology that attaches additional equipment to expand the width of a traditional snowcat groomer. Prototypes are expected in 2014, and Stevens Pass will be one of the test locations for the EcoGroomer. In our Transit Department, we looked for ways to minimize bus idling during cold weather, which drivers undertake to get engines and passenger compartments up to temperature. By installing numerous engine block plug-ins at the bus lot, we provided an alternative way of keeping bus ready for use.
Saving Electricity – We looked at how much the slopelights were used across the mountain, and it seemed to be more than needed during overnight grooming. After creating new protocols and adding powerful lightbars to our snowcat fleet, most of the 1,000watt slopelights (running at 480volts) are now left off overnight (unless we have large rebuilds in the Terrain Park), saving several thousand dollars per winter.