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Green Aspects at Heavenly Ski Resort

With the recent “storm watch” as the local news stations like to dramatically call it, an onslaught of much needed snow hit the Lake Tahoe region and the ski resorts. Of course, we had to be on hand to check the falling beauty. So, it appears for now that Mother Nature got a late start in cooperating with the ski resorts. The questions remains, so what are the ski resorts doing on their end? How are they helping green cause and Mother Earth?

One of the most notable resorts of South Lake Tahoe remains Heavenly Lake Tahoe so we checked out their Green progress. One of their strongest aspects can be seen in transportation. The B20 or CNG powered BlueGo buses transport people from the resort and though the South Lake Tahoe region. This bus system (free for Heavenly employees and others) keeps 400,000-500,000 people per year out of their cars, while promoting use of alt fuels. Although the Heavenly snow cats don’t exactly count as transportation the resort started using an experimental B5 fuel snow cat to groom the slopes. Yes, B5 doesn’t exactly knock our mittens off but B5 is better than B0. We can always look for B10 or 20 or better in the near future.

The resort also remains fairly militant when it comes to watershed protection, soil erosion control and water conservation. They should, if they want to “Keep Tahoe Blue.” We saw specific instances where they maintain soil control, replace their poor past practices with best practices, and have instituted remedial programs and water quality protection. In one case, Heavenly completed a comprehensive Stream Environment Zone Restoration project on Edgewood Creek which lead to enhanced sediment retention.

Of course, we couldn’t live on riding and skiing alone, so we stepped onto the Sky Deck for some chow and rays. The resort has made a conscious effort to dump most of their overprocessed, unhealthy junk food. We appreciate that Heavenly started their Appetite for Life menu, where they serve natural, hormone-free meats and poultry and organic dairy products in its seven on-mountain restaurants. We’d like to see them, like everyone, do their due diligence when it comes to food product partnering. They proudly serve Horizon Farms for their milk and cheese products but maybe they should not be so proud as Horizon has come under fire for its “organic” practices and authenticity. Beyond the grub, we like that the Sky Deck, as well as the other mountain eateries, serves up their meals in reusable baskets and use reusable silverware, which helps decrease waste and saves energy and water.

With all of the new condos and commercial structures, we’d like to say that they have LEED buildings or the equivalent already in place but alas nothing yet. The resort does have plans for four new on-mountain lodges and restaurants to be built to LEED standards. It looks like we’ll need to plan another snow day to check out those new green buildings, see if they have made any halftime adjustments to their menu, transportation, alt energy and any other green developments.

Written by Keith Rockmael

Living in progressively Green San Francisco, Keith Rockmael works in Commercial Real Estate, Leasing and Business Opportunities with a special interest in Green Real Estate and Green Businesses. He also works with restaurants and bars in helping them to Green their businesses. Please contact him regarding health, business, environment or Green finance questions or referrals.

He maintains his own blog at Greenerati.com. Contact him at: pepeflaco@gmail.com

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