WHISTLER, BC April 22, 2013 – For the fifth year in a row Whistler Blackcomb is proud to be named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
The award recognizes Whistler Blackcomb’s energy conservation efforts in 2012 which resulted in electricity savings of 1.4 million kWh thanks to new large-scale energy conservation projects. These savings contribute to meeting Whistler Blackcomb’s annual target of reducing energy use by five per cent every year.
“As a result of Whistler Blackcomb’s new snowmaking monitoring program, our on-mountain restaurant retrofitting, and replacement of over 5,000 light bulbs on both mountains, we realised energy savings equivalent to 5% of our annual consumption,” says Arthur DeJong, Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager. “Environmental stewardship is part of our corporate culture and it is our hope that guests who visit Whistler Blackcomb will be inspired by our actions to incorporate more sustainable practices into their own lives.”
Whistler Blackcomb’s new achievements that contributed to being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers in 2013 include:
Braving Bone-Chilling Conditions to Switch Out 5,000 Inefficient Light Bulbs
Whistler Blackcomb’s conservation team traveled by snowmobile to retrofit light bulbs in facilities located in hard-to-reach locations throughout Whistler Blackcomb’s 8,171 acres of terrain. Locations include lamps and ballasts at lift stations, pump houses, compressor buildings and alpine maintenance shops. The retrofit was completed as of November 2012. Estimated savings for the lighting retrofit are over 450,000 kWh, enough to run the PEAK 2 PEAK for six months.
Snowmaking Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting
In 2011, Whistler Blackcomb discovered that snowmaking represents 30 per cent of Whistler Blackcomb’s annual energy usage and occurs throughout just four months of the year. To help understand where this energy usage occurs, in 2012 Whistler Blackcomb installed more electrical and water flow meters to determine how much energy and water it takes to make snow. This technology allows snowmakers to have an understanding of the energy efficiency of making snow at different temperatures, to analyze how much power they are using during their shift, and adjust their behaviours to limit their usage. The estimated savings are 450,000 kWh per year for snowmaking.
Continuous Optimization at the Roundhouse Lodge
In December 2012, Whistler Blackcomb completed a structured optimization program at the largest on-mountain facility, the Roundhouse Lodge. In January alone, the Roundhouse used 39 per cent less electricity over last year with colder temperatures and higher guest visits. This was achieved by installing a new energy management information system, replacing old equipment with energy saving versions and changing the lodge’s schedules and operating procedures. Projected savings for this program were estimated at 620,000 kWh per year but Whistler Blackcomb is on track to see much higher savings than what was projected.
*Total estimated energy savings for snowmaking monitoring, on-mountain restaurant optimization + light bulb replacements are over 1,400,000 kWh or 5 per cent of Whistler Blackcomb’s overall consumption.
Whistler Blackcomb’s ongoing environmental initiatives include:
Minimizing the Environmental Impact of New Lifts
Environmental considerations have been made to utilize the least impactful methods possible during the installation of the new Crystal Ridge Express on Blackcomb Mountain. The current footprint for the stations was cleared in the early 1990’s as a part of the original vision for the terrain. The Crystal Ridge Express top station will mostly fit in the current footprint. The Crystal Zone will maintain an emphasis on gladed skiing with minimal soil disruption and tree clearing during the installation. Native species of thick grass and other vegetation will be planted before the rainy season in fall as a measure to return the area to its natural state and mitigate any erosion before the snow comes for winter.
It’s difficult to find a garbage can in Whistler Blackcomb’s on-mountain restaurants because everything is collected on trays and taken behind the scenes to an elaborate sorting area where staff separate reusables, recyclables and compostable items. Whistler Blackcomb recycles over 30 different types of products, including organic packaging and food waste. The sorted waste is transported downhill and trucked to Whistler’s local compost and recycling depot. Since 2009, Whistler Blackcomb has reduced its on-mountain waste by over 42 per cent through large-scale composting initiatives and has continued to improve ever since.
Whistler Blackcomb’s grooming snow cats are run on diesel fuel and the truck and car fleet runs primarily on gasoline. Every grooming cat is digitally monitored and tracked on weekly consumption and idling time. Idling times are graphed and reported back to the operators. There are weekly discussions with operators who exceed idling and consumption targets. All business units get monthly fuel usage reports for trucks and cars indicating consumption relative to targets.
Fitzsimmons Renewable Hydro Project
Whistler Blackcomb’s operational carbon emissions total just over 6,000 tonnes annually, primarily from vehicle use. Chairlifts and snowmaking are run by renewable hydro-electricity. Whistler Blackcomb partnered with stakeholders to support the construction of a run-of-river hydro plant located in the Fitzsimmons Creek between Whistler and Blackcomb. The small plant produces the equivalent amount of power per year to what Whistler Blackcomb consumes annually (32 Gigawatt hours or the equivalent of 3,200 homes). This project offsets over 11,000 tonnes of carbon. The Fitzsimmons Renewable Hydro Project was fully operational in 2009.
Workplace Conservation Awareness
In the second year of participating in BC Hydro’s Workplace Conservation Awareness program, Whistler Blackcomb’s efforts resulted in a whopping 670,000 kWh of electrical savings over the past year, simply from behavioural changes. That is enough to power 67 homes in BC for one year. Initiatives that have led to the power savings include monitor shut down, workspace tune up, Earth Hour, conservation commitment and renewal, and operations shut downchecklists. Whistler Blackcomb has a cross-sectional team of 15 staff members from all divisions focused on improving awareness and making conservation a part of the organizational culture.
Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Employee Environmental Fund
The Environmental Fund raises monetary grants through generous voluntary staff donations that are in turn matched by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation. To date, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Employee Environmental Fund has provided over $300,000.00 in sponsorship for 66 projects.
For more information on Whistler Blackcomb’s environmental story, please visit http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/mountain/environment/index.htm
Guests looking to plan a trip to the consistently rated No. 1 Mountain Resort in North America can visit whistlerblackcomb.com/deals_packages or call 1-888-403-4727.
About Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb, the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is situated in the Resort Municipality of Whistler located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia 125 kilometres (78 miles) from Vancouver, British Columbia. North America’s premier four season mountain resort, Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains which combined offer over 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, receives on average over 1,192 centimetres (469 inches) of snow annually, and one of the longest ski seasons in North America. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking trails, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola.
For more information, visit http://ww1.whistlerblackcomb.com/media
Proud to be a venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
Media Notes: Whistler Blackcomb is pleased to provide high resolution photographs available for editorial use, downloadable at the following link: http://portal.whistlerblackcomb.com/media
Please credit – Photographer Listed, Location: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia.