We've spent $3.9 million since 2006 purchasing locally raised meat, produce and beverages. For example, every organic chicken ever served at Elk Camp Restaurant is from Colorado. Not only do these products taste better when they're locally sourced, but they reduce carbon emissions due to their short journey from field to fork.
Aspen Skiing Company created the first sustainability department in the ski industry. We have led the industry in reducing our carbon footprint since 1997, but soon realized that the pressing and global nature of climate change meant we had to think bigger and act in ways that influenced systems change. We work on our own footprint, but we spend most of our time and energy trying to change policy, model pioneering solutions, and build the climate and social justice movement.
Capturing Coal Methane to Power OperationsAspen Skiing Company partnered with the Elk Creek coal mine, Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Coal Gas on a $6 million investment to capture waste methane vented from a coal mine in neighboring Somerset, Colorado to generate carbon negative electricity. Waste methane, and therefore electricity, will continue to be produced for at least 15 years, and possibly much longer. This project is the only one of its scale in the United States.
Solar PowerOn July 1, 2008, Aspen Skiing Company celebrated the installation of a 147 kilowatt solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. The system sits on one half acre of ranchland and at the time was the largest solar electric installation in western Colorado. The array powers the school's science building and feeds excess energy into the town of Carbondale's power grid. Annually, it will produce 200,000 kWh (enough power for 20 average American homes) and keep 400,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air.
In addition to this array Aspen Skiing Company operates:
- 10.6 kW array at Thunder River Lodge, an employee housing complex;
- 5.0 kW array at The Little Nell providing electricity for the 2,500 square foot Paepke Suite; and
- 2.3 kW array at Aspen Highlands Patrol Headquarters.
LEED CERTIFICATIONAspen Skiing Company developed the first set of green buildings in the ski industry. We participated in the creation of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership Energy and Environmental Design Program, known as LEED.
in 1999, we built one of the first 11 LEED-certified buildings in the world — the Sundeck Restaurant atop Aspen Mountain, which was a LEED Pioneer. (View an additional fact sheet on this building).
We've now added the LEED Gold certified Sam's (pictured), LEED Platinum certified Holiday House Employee Housing Project, LEED Silver certified Elk Camp Restaurant and the LEED Silver certified Limelight Hotel Ketchum and Limelight Hotel Snowmass. We built but then sold the LEED Silver certified Golf Clubhouse in Snowmass, an entirely electric building (except for gas stoves) before electrification was cool.
Sustainable Food And Beverage
Ajax Tavern, Element 47, and catered Little Nell events serve sustainability on every plate.
Beef is primarily supplied by Brandt Beef (all-natural, family owned and operated since 1945) from Brawley CA, and Lone Mountain Wagyu raised by the Estrin family in Golden, New Mexico. Chickens come from Boulder Natural Meats. Dayspring in Olathe and Razors Roost in Austin provide eggs. We select fish using the Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch approved Best Choice sources. Seventy-five percent of our produce comes from Colorado.
You may even see culinary staff picking ingredients directly from The Little Nell's organic garden each day. In 2016, we established The Little Nell Gardens at Emma Farms in Basalt, CO where we produce arugula, kale, chard, cucumbers, beets, scallions, radishes, baby leeks, broccoli, pickling cucumbers, and herbs. These items and many others are featured on Element 47's constantly-changing menu. Additional produce is supplied by Rain Crow Farms in Paonia, Thistle Whistle in Hotchkiss, and Rendezvous Farms in Crawford. The Little Nell spends over $200,000 on local food each year. These purchasing decisions are major contributions to the local economy.
FOOD WASTEIn addition to efforts to buy locally, we’ve made significant strides to expand the number of locations composting food waste. What started out as a trial run spear-headed by Henrietta Oliver at Bumps Restaurant at Buttermilk has spread to the vast majority of our on-mountain restaurants and now also includes our offices at 117 Aspen Airport Business Center. These efforts mean only 1/5 of our trash goes to the landfill at these facilities.
Low Impact Mountain Dining
We may be a privately held company, but we are proud to be as transparent (perhaps more so) than public ones. Since 1999, our Sustainability Reports have, with ruthless honesty, delineated environmental impacts, and explained how we implement our unique, big-lever philosophy. These reports are available online. We urge you to start with the 2018 - 2019 report that begins with a history of Aspen.