From running lifts to making hot chocolate, energy is a vital resource for Big Sky Resort. We're pushing to be more efficient in our energy usage from the smallest to largest implementations.
Clean Energy Chairlifts
Starting March 2020, all of our lift operations run on clean energy. As a vital part of our business, our lift operations amount to almost a third of our total electricity consumption. As part of our 2025 Vision, we are looking to replace older, less efficient lifts with new lifts with better technology and efficiency, like Ramcharger 8, but that takes time.
In the short term, we can offset our energy usage with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Big Sky Resort purchases RECs equivalent to the annual energy consumption of running our 38 lifts. Beyond offsetting our impact, RECs also support renewable energy creation and allow for more clean energy to enter the grid that we all pull from.
Entergize Efficiency Thermostats
In Big Sky Resort's Shoshone Lodge and Summit Hotel, each room is equipped with a key-card system to optimize thermostat activity. This system allows guests to set comfortable temperature settings while they are in the room, but that moderates activity when rooms are vacant. This maximizes the autonomy of our visitors, encouraging them to choose the temperature during their stay, while also minimizing the energy used to heat or cool an empty room.
Additionally, we are working to upgrade to higher-efficiency thermostats when it makes sense to do so. The temperature control of our lodges is a significant contributor to our energy consumption, and by cutting out unnecessary heating and cooling and improving our heating systems, we are able to reduce the electricity demand and limit greenhouse gas emissions from our hotels.
Solar-Powered Beacon Checkers in the High Alpine
Big Sky is home to some of the biggest skiing in America. One of the safety tools we use is beacon checkers, which make sure skiers and boarders are equipped with proper avalanche safety technology before heading into high-consequence terrain. Beacons are invaluable in the case of an accident or avalanche, but sometimes, beacons are out of battery or not turned on properly, which can lead to avoidable accidents.
All our beacon checkers are powered by localized solar arrays. This not only allows our beacon checkers to run sustainably, it also prevents us from having to track wires out to their locations from centralized power sources. Our solar powered beacons are a great example of how ski areas face unique challenges in practicing sustainable operations, but with that comes opportunities for innovative solutions.
- In the upcoming Huntley remodel, energy-efficient lights and water-saving toilets and showerheads will replace existing fixtures.
- Summit Hotel parking garage lighting, housekeeping closets, public restrooms & hallways all operate on motion detectors.
- The Summit, Huntley and Village Center hotel rooms have automatic temperature control in each room.
- Big Sky Resort has installed vestibule entries on all major entrance/exit points in the Exchange and Summit Hotel.
- All old Shoshone Hotel deck windows have been replaced with new, energy-efficient models.
- The Resort has marked all non-essential breakers, so they can be turned off when the hotels close in the offseason to save on power.
- Big Sky regularly audits and adjusts the snowmaking system in order to make it run at optimal efficiency.
- LED Lighting is continuously being installed throughout the resort.
- Big Sky Resort has added Tesla Charging Stations in the Summit Condominium Hotel for eco-friendly vehicles.
- All employees are encouraged to turn their computers off at the end of the day and turn the lights out when they leave a room.
- Big Sky Resort uses energy-efficient lighting in retail shops and hotel rooms.
- All employees are directed to turn down the thermostat in their office space at the end of the day.
- Big Sky has implemented off-season procedures designed to limit electricity use from buildings not in use.
- Big Sky makes necessary adjustments to boilers in order to most efficiently heat pools and store hot water.
- Big Sky Resort switched to a local linen company for washing, reducing trucking time by 6 hours per day.