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Squaw Unveils New Sustainability Efforts



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(Squaw Valley, CA)
Monday, April 01, 2013

Every 30 seconds a gondola carrying 24 people rumbles across tower pulleys and shoots up 2-thousand feet to snow-covered cliffs surrounding Squaw Valley Resort.

   
It takes a lot of power to do this and it creates a lot of pollution. Squaw Valley always knew that, but not how much pollution. CEO Andy Wirth wanted to figure it out and reduce it.
 
  "We have set forth on an effort about a year ago to develop comprehensive, long-standing, sustainability initiatives."
 
  He started with the four-day U.S. Alpine Championships last month. Staff calculated that the ski lifts, snow-making, travel to and from the event and hotels for guests pumped 275 tons of carbon dioxide into the air.
 
The question is how to reduce that size carbon footprint. The answer in Andy Wirths case is, start small. 78 percent of the pollution was produced by air and car travel to the event. He couldn't change that, but he introduced a shuttle to reduce car traffic. Then he looked in other places where carbon emissions occur and started a pilot program composting the trash.
 
"The one thing that threw me off was actually how we are not advanced in this area and there is great opportunity to advance the practices on recycling and composting."
 
  The effort made Wirth realize just how much work is left to be done.
 
"More regionally we think that there is an opportunity to lead or be a strong participant in a collaborative effort in Lake Tahoe."
 
He says Squaw Valley is testing biodiesel, has begun a "green bucks" program for skiers to donate to local environmental efforts. Wirth is also considering a bio dome to grow food. It may include a classroom for environmental sustainability education.
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