A SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION & THE WORK CONTINUES
Everyday our community is working towards a sustainable future. In your travels and adventures around the Vail Valley, help us keep this land pristine and healthy for future visitors and generations.
Protecting our environment: During your stay, remember to practice Leave No Trace principles. Vail has become a sustainable destination, so remember to pack out your trash, avoid overcrowded hiking trails and biking trails, and please avoid causing wildfires with open flames and smoking.
The town of Vail is the first Certified Sustainable Destination in the nation to have successfully met the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) criteria. Steps toward the certification began in 2012, when the town read GSTC’s criteria and partnered with Walking Mountains Science Center, Vail Resorts and the U.S. Forest Service, among others.
Then, they went further: They created the Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination standard, because GSTC’s criteria didn’t address problematic snow melting practices, snowmaking and the carbon footprint associated with ski resort towns.
The goal: to lower the carbon footprint of Vail, the Gore Creek watershed and Vail Mountain by 20 percent by 2020. To achieve this, the town will use electric buses, starting in 2020. They’ve also purchased renewable energy; partnered with Energy Smart Colorado to provide energy efficient services to homes; created a set of best practices to save energy in snow melting (such as placing temperature sensors in the ground, buying more efficient boilers and addressing any leaks); tightened their building codes to adhere to the International Energy Conservation Code; designated sensitive sites and wildlife habitat in need of protection; started a recycling program; placed messages by storm drains educating the public about pollutants that taint Gore Creek if dumped; and founded a cultural heritage program to archive its skiing history and the Ute culture, among other measures.
Vail continues to balance its 2.8 million (and growing) visitors with local environmental and community needs. It set a 25 percent recycle rate by 2019 and has reached that through enforcement, curbside composting and streamlining waste management services. It also aims to restore the water quality of Gore Creek and supports Vail Resorts’ commitment to a zero net operating footprint by 2030.
“The town of Vail and community partners have taken steps to embed sustainability into the des-tination’s operations, and throughout the entire visitor experience,” says Kristen Bertuglia, environmental sustainability director for the town of Vail. “As a result, tourism development in Vail happens in a manner that protects nature, improves residents’ well-being and preserves cultural heritage.”
In addition to Vail Resort’s commitment, the community’s Climate Action Plan strives to reduce greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. “Certified sustainable travel destinations must have a climate adaptation plan that identifies the local risks of climate change and includes strategies for development, siting, design and management of facilities,” says Kim Landmaid, founder and consultant of sustainability at Walking Mountains.
“The real value of this is the continuous improvement,” Bertuglia says. “Once you’re certified, it’s still a journey; there are always ways to improve.”