Snow Bowl Goes Carbon Neutral

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Snow Bowl Goes Carbon Neutral

November 20, 2006

Middlebury College ski facility takes carbon neutrality to new heights

The National Ski Area Association has confirmed that the Middlebury College Snow Bowl is the first carbon neutral ski area in the United States. Beginning in the 2006-07 ski season, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl will be a carbon neutral ski facility. To achieve carbon neutrality, the college purchased carbon offsets its operations in the amount of $7,138 to compensate for a total of 679.9 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The college bought the offsets from Charlotte-based NativeEnergy, a privately held renewable energy company that helps reduce CO2 emissions by funding Native American owned and operated wind turbine farms and family-owned farm methane projects.

Also working with NativeEnergy, the Middlebury alpine and nordic ski teams have become carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets to compensate for the teams' CO2 emissions related to everything from travel to the electricity used to power the coaches' offices.

The project was initially the idea of a group of students in an environmental economics class at Middlebury College in the spring semester of 2006. The course, taught by Associate Professor of Economics Jon Isham, examined the need for economic reasoning and environmental analysis in the design of environmental policies. The students worked with Middlebury College Assistant Treasurer and Director of Business Services Tom Corbin, and Snow Bowl Manager Peter Mackey to implement their plan.

The Snow Bowl management, supported by the college's administration, has taken the lead in becoming a carbon neutral ski facility. We hope our actions will encourage others to do the same. None of the costs involved in achieving carbon neutrality at the Snow Bowl will be passed on to its customers.

NativeEnergy and college officials determined the total carbon emissions of Snow Bowl operations over the course of a season, including the burning of heating oil, diesel fuel and gasoline, as well as electricity usage. They also calculated the carbon dioxide released from the transportation of skiers to and from the Snow Bowl based on an average number of skiers throughout the season and the average distance they travel.

NativeEnergy concluded the total carbon dioxide output for running the Snow Bowl for one year to be 679.9 tons and proposed that the college offset this CO2 by contributing to two renewable energy projects:

  • The Rosebud Sioux Tribe St. Francis Wind Farm, a tribal-owned and operated wind farm located near the town of St. Francis on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, scheduled for completion in 2007
  • The Penn England Farm Methane Project on the Penn England family-owned dairy farm in Williamsburg, Penn.

Middlebury College is helping to finance these operations by purchasing a share of the CO2 reductions that each project is estimated to produce over its operating life.