A worker clears snow from a small solar array at the Aspen Highlands patrol headquarters building in Colorado.
These particular solar panels produce only a tiny amount of power but are located in a very visible spot to highlight the resort's larger commitments to energy initiatives. "We're also looking at pursuing utility-scale clean energy," said Auden Schendler, who heads sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company, "and we established the industry's biggest on-mountain solar array at almost 12,000 feet (3,658 meters)."
Aspen Highlands, like two of the other three Colorado resorts owned by Aspen's "Ski Co," is one of 2011's top ten environmentally sensitive ski resorts in the Western U.S. as ranked by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition. (See the new 2012 rankings here.)
SACCs Warren Rider said the rankings help give skiers and boarders green choices, and they reach a wider audience as well. "In many cases ski areas operate on public land. We believe it's incredibly important that any operation on public land, whether a ski area or a timber sale, needs to operate in a sustainable way. The public is the landowner so these rankings give them an opportunity to see how these areas are being managed."
Aspen Skiing Company has been a leader in pushing for global warming policy, including filing a brief supporting the states that took a landmark case to the Supreme Court to force the U.S. government to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.