The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) recently released its 12th Sustainable Slopes Annual Report detailing the ski industryfs progress in implementing the principles of its Environmental Charter during the 2011/12 season.

Among the highlights, NSAA member ski areas sent three important energy and climate change advocacy letters to congress this year. In March, 81 ski areas endorsed Senator Jeff Bingamanfs Clean Energy Standard Legislation, S. 2146. In June, 89 ski areas sent a comment letter in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyfs Power Plant Carbon Emissions Standard. In July, 99 ski areas sent a letter of support to the senate leadership urging the extension of the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit.

The annual report also highlights the associationfs newly developed Climate Challenge Program, a voluntary program for resorts to inventory, target and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In]depth results of first year participants of the Climate Challenge, including Coloradofs Arapahoe Basin and Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, Massachusettsf Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Oregonfs Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Utahfs Alta Ski Area, Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Wyomingfs Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, are included in the report.

The founding eight Climate Challenge ski areas inventoried a total of 67,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). When all of the targets established among those participants have been completed, 11,500 MTCO2e, or 17 percent, of those emissions will be reduced by 2020. In reaching their Climate Challenge target, these ski areas are each expected to save about $600,000 per year in utility and fuel costs. Reduction projects implemented in 2012 include four lighting efficiency projects, four snowmaking efficiency projects, one vehicle conversion project to use waste vegetable oil in place of diesel fuel, one solar photovoltaic system and one wind turbine.

The report identifies the 10 additional ski areas, including Canadafs Beaver Valley Ski Club, Californiafs Boreal Mountain and Soda Springs resorts, Coloradofs Copper Mountain, Oregonfs Mt. Bachelor, Nevadafs Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, Utahfs Gorgoza Park, and Vermontfs Killington, Pico and Sugarbush resorts, that have signed on to participate in the Challenge for 2012/13.

In 2009, NSAA launched its Sustainable Slopes Grant Program in an effort to stimulate ski area projects that embody the 21 principles of the Environmental Charter. The annual report highlights sponsor and partner contributions that make the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program possible, including in]kind snowmaking grants from NSAA supplier member HKD Turbo of Massachusetts, in]kind energy audit grants from Brendle Group based in Fort Collins, Colo., and cash grants from LeitWind, a division of Leitner Technologies, Colo., California]based CLIF Bar & Co., and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). These donations made the implementation of both the Grant Program and the Climate Challenge possible and helped fuel resort efforts to develop more efficient snowmaking systems, reduce energy use, reduce waste, develop on]site renewable energy, and invest in lighting retrofits.

Finally, the report also highlights the latest environmental projects and programs at ski areas across the country including the use of electric vehicles, composting, local purchasing programs, efforts to reduce carbon footprints, water conservation efforts, and employee and guest education as it relates to sustainability.

More than 190 resorts endorse the associationfs Environmental Charter, and those resorts represent about 75 percent of the ski industryfs annual skier and snowboarder visits. The report additionally recognizes the winners of the Golden Eagle Awards for environmental excellence. This yearfs winners include Aspen Skiing Co. in Colorado, Stevens Pass in Washington, and Mt. Abram in Maine. Click Here for a copy of the 2012 Sustainable Slopes Annual Report.