Our Stories

Climbing up to Highland Bowl

Aspen Skiing Company has a long history of leading the way on sustainable practices, policy, and individuals taking action. Below, we share stories about that work.

Destroying Coal Mine Methane 

Phase I

In 2012, Aspen Skiing Company partnered with Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine, Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Carbon Solutions to convert waste methane from a coal plant in Somerset, Colorado into usable electricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating financial return along the way.

At peak production, the mine produced 3 megawatts of baseload power, which was as much energy as ASC uses annually at all four of its resorts, including hotels and restaurants. The electricity generated and the carbon offsets flowed into the utility grid, not to ASC directly, greening the entire regional grid.

Since this project started, it has prevented the emission of 250 billion cubic feet of methane annually into the atmosphere — mitigating a huge problem when it comes to global warming. This is equivalent to removing 517,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year. On the financial front, the methane-to-electricity project produced between $100,000 and $150,000 in revenue per month from electricity and carbon credit sales to Holy Cross Energy. After nearly ten years, ASC has only about $750,000 remaining to pay off its initial investment of $5.34 million. A link to a report on phase one of this project is below.

+ Download the Report

Phase II

All coal mines that leak methane experience a “decline curve.” That means the volume and quality of the escaping gas decreases over time. That has been true with this project too. That means we’re changing how it operates. Because we can no longer run generators with the lower concentrations of methane, we will be flaring it. This ensures that the super-potent greenhouse gas doesn’t vent to the atmosphere, and instead gets converted to vastly less potent CO2. The project will continue to make money by selling these methane destruction credits into the California cap and trade market.

These are a rare example of a functional carbon offset — because without the sale of the credit, there would be no financial incentive to flare the methane.

Protect Our Winters (POW)

Aspen Skiing Company has been a longtime supporter of Protect Our Winters. Senior Vice President of Sustainability Auden Schendler serves on the board. We have helped create a movement to weaponize the outdoor community as a political force, like the NRA. Every Aspen Skiing Company uniform features the POW logo, in an effort to raise awareness with our guests and demonstrate and force conversation and education.
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Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC)

In the last few years, we've gone from knocking on doors to being at the table. In 2018, Governor John Hickenlooper selected our Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Auden Schendler, to serve on the Air Quality Control Commission, which makes climate and energy policy for the state, and a group to whom we’d often testified. He served for two and a half years, and in that time the commission further ratcheted down the strictest methane-leak rules in the country, adopted California's low-emissions vehicle standard and then their zero-emissions vehicle standard, and enacted new regulations on hydro-flourocarbons, a super-greenhouse gas.

Funding the Future

Highland Bowl at sunrise

Highland Bowl at sunrise

Over half of our employees are members of the Environment Foundation. They donate a dollar (or more) per week from their paycheck, which is matched by Aspen Skiing Company, the Aspen Community Foundation and Lavazza. All funds — more than $3.5 million in 21 years — support environmental projects in the community. The employee board of directors of this independent nonprofit learns about philanthropy and the nonprofit world.

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Solar Power

On July 1, 2008, Aspen Skiing Company celebrated the installation of a 147 kW solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale. At the time it was the largest solar installation in western Colorado. It powers the school's science building and feeds excess energy into the power grid. It produces 200,000 kWh annually (enough power for 20 average American homes) and keep 400,000 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the air. The project cost Aspen Skiing Company $1.1 million. After 20 years, we'll donate the still-operational array to CRMS. Aspen Skiing Company operates many on-site solar projects, including 10.6 kW at Thunder River Lodge employee housing; 5.0 kW at The Little Nell providing electricity to the 2,500-square-foot Paepke Suite; and 2.3 kW at Aspen Highlands Patrol Headquarters that was the first (and remains the prettiest!) array in the ski industry.

LEED Certification

Aspen Skiing Company helped create the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership Energy and Environmental Design Program, known as LEED. As a LEED "Pioneer," we built one of the first 11 LEED-certified buildings in the world — the Sundeck Restaurant atop Aspen Mountain, and provided feedback that was incorporated into the first iteration of the program. We later added LEED Gold certified Sam's, LEED Platinum certified Holiday House Employee Housing, LEED Silver certified Elk Camp Restaurant, LEED silver-certified Limelight Snowmass, and the LEED Silver certified Limelight Hotel Ketchum. Most recently, the Willits Block 9 Employee Housing, is entirely electric, a key climate solution.
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Corporate Volunteer Policy

Full-time, year-round employees receive 16 hours of paid volunteer time in the community. This program has the potential to generate 15,500 hours of service and more than $330,000 in wages donated to support the community.