Considering a sustainable ski holiday this year?

Mountain Riders is benchmarking 75 ski resorts on sustainability issues
Considering a sustainable ski holiday this year?
Publ. date 12 Aug 2011
Les Trois Vallées, an enormous ski area in France that stretches from Val Thorens to Les Menuires and Courchevel. With over 600 kilometers of ski slopes, 180 ski lifts and an altitude ranging in between the 1800 and 3230 meters, the mountain area is popular all over the world. However, when the snow melts in the spring, what is left behind is a huge amount of waste. Last year, more than 6000 volunteers collected 65 tonnes of waste from the different ski areas.

Ski resorts can become more active on sustainable development. A proven method to accelerate sustainability is benchmarking. Mountain Riders , a French NGO, started the Eco Guide for ski resorts in mountain areas eleven years ago. 68 French resorts were analyzed, plus another 7 resorts from other countries. Famous ski resorts such as Les Deux Alpes, Val d'Isere, La Plagne, Whistler, Aspen, Saas-Fee and Verbier were analyzed on the following sustainability criteria: transportation, energy, development, water, waste, social and territorial aspects. Are ski resorts easily accessible by public transport? What are they doing on energy, water and waste management? And are resorts active on education or certifications?

These questions are answered in this Eco Guide. The network has grown to 600 members and by educating, organizing events (such as the yearly clean-up session), and with the Eco Guide, Mountain Riders is trying to raise awareness for sustainability in mountain areas. Some best practices that came out of the study are:

  • A carpooling website
  • Cheap public transport: subsidised €1 unique ticket to get anywhere within the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region
  • 270 electric golf carts to get around the resort in Saas-Fee (CH)
  • Free shuttle buses to the market and/or supermarket once a week in les Orres and Vaujany
  • Thermal and photovoltaic solar panels on public buildings in Saint Anton am Arlberg
  • Rainwater harvesting for impounding reservoirs, approximately 15 000m3/year, at la Pierre St Martin
  • Annual clean up session jointly organised by resorts in Chartreuse and the Chartreuse Propre eco volunteers, with organic food & local product lunch

Benchmarking of ski resorts and communicating the best practices helps to accelerate sustainable development in these vulnerable areas. Finch & Beak acknowledges the importance of benchmarking and is a partner of SAM, the organization behind the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Besides that, Finch & Beak initiated a benchmark survey among 72 professional golf events (Sustainable Golf Index) and presented in 2011 for the fourth consecutive year the Web Monitor for social housing corporations.

For more information on benchmarking and integrating a CSR strategy into the corporate strategy, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, managing partner, via or +31 6 28 02 18 80. 

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