Our Commitment to the Environment
- Solar Farm
- Protecting Wildlife
- NSAA's Skier Sustainability Code
- RFID Technology
- Whiteface Draft UMPA
- What You Can Do
Our Commitment to the Environment
At Whiteface Mountain, we are fortunate to ski and ride surrounded by fresh air, countless bodies of crystal clear water, preserved forest and 45 other High Peaks that create unparalleled scenery and breathtaking views. We recognize this is much of what makes Whiteface Mountain so special. Our team strives to create an exceptional experience while also considering ways to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. In recent years, ski resorts have worked to reduce the environmental mark of our industry as a whole. Our goal is to not only meet conservation standards but to lead the way in minimizing our ecological impact with key initiatives.
Over the past several years, we have installed more than 400 low energy, high efficiency snow guns. These guns make significantly more snow in less time, ultimately enhancing the snowmaking season with an abundance of snow while reducing our carbon footprint. Additionally, our snowcats now run on state-of-the-art tier diesel engines, and we have eliminated full-time use of our diesel compressors for snowmaking. Our cats still groom the best corduroy in the Northeast and help make our fleet one of the most environmentally friendly in the business. Our efforts also extend beyond the slopes as we now use propane as our main heat source, while also using infrared heaters in many locations and energy-efficient LED lighting.
Whiteface Mountain is committed to protecting and preserving our natural resources and exemplifying how conservation and recreation can coexist. Innovation is key and we will continue to improve and modernize our facilities with sustainability as a leading priority.
During the 2019/2020 ski season, Whiteface committed to a 25-year solar energy project to help protect future winters by offsetting electric use with renewable energy – in essence, turning sunlight into snow. Our 9,032 ground-mounted solar panels span 12 acres and generates 2.6 Megawatts. Over a 25-year period, that will offset 58,888 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 12,397 cars off the road.
This solar system generates renewable energy for the local power grids, providing a source of clean electricity in the regions they are located. Whiteface collects energy credits, and the savings are applied to our facilities.
When it comes to rare species, the time to act is before they vanish forever. The elusive Bicknell’s thrush (Catharus bicknelli), is designated as a Species of Special Concern by the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP). This migrant bird winters in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, but also nests and breeds in mountaintop fir forest habitats like the ones found high on Whiteface Mountain in the summertime.
Protecting this habitat is important enough that mitigation measures and best management practices for construction were initiated in the 2006 Unit Management Plan (UMP) for Whiteface Mountain, and again in the 2022 UMP Amendment. Within this plan ORDA restricts all tree cutting at elevations above 2800 feet to protect the bird’s habitat during its breeding season, May 15 through August 1.
Thanks in part to these protection measures, the birds’ ethereal song can still be heard high up on mountain, and each summer people come from all over to see and hear Bicknell’s Thrush. Some say that seeing and hearing the bird along with the beauty and majesty of the mountain is among the highlights of their lives.
Over the past several years, we have given our snowmaking system an overhaul. By the start of the 2022 ski season we will have 527 low energy, high efficiency snow guns across the mountain. We’ve picked up the latest and greatest from HKD Snowmakers, Johnon Controls, Snow Logic, and Nivis. These guns make significantly more snow in less time, ultimately enhancing the snowmaking season with an abundance of snow while reducing our carbon footprint. We’ve also added 11 variable frequency drive pump motors to our system which means more water gets used on the trails for snowmaking and less is wasted to run our system.
NSAA's Skier Sustainability Code
In 2019 Whiteface introduced RFID technology which offers direct to lift access and online purchasing, so guests can go directly from their car to the slopes. The lift ticket can be reused and re-loaded for several years, preventing waste and adding hassle-free convenience for customers.
The RFID, or radio-frequency-identification, chip in the pass tells our lift systems who you are and opens the gate that allows entry to the chairlifts.
Use of this technology allows us to replace paper and plastic lift tickets and disposable wickets with a durable, re-usable card. You can help reduce your environmental impact while skiing and riding by reusing your SKI3 Card year after year. Each SKI3 Card is valid at Whiteface, Belleayre and Gore.
While this may seem like a small change, with over 200,000 skier visits per year at Whiteface alone, you can imagine the impact on waste!
What You Can Do
While we continue to work towards reducing CO2 emissions, we can’t do it alone. Some of the responsibility also falls on the alpine community to help preserve these mountains for years to come. We ask that skiers and riders join us in reducing our impact on the environment. We have a mountain-wide zero sort recycling program, so each trash receptacle has an opening for both trash and recyclables. Any material that can be recycled should go in that opening with the recycle logo. We also encourage skiers and riders to carpool or take the shuttle to and from the mountain.
These are only two examples, but they’re simple ones that everyone can do. If we can each think globally and act locally, it will go a long way towards reducing the impact on the climate and ensuring that this great activity remains for generations to come!