LUDLOW, Vermont — Okemo Mountain Resort’s Jackson Gore Inn was recently designated as a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State by the environmental business partnership between the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center. This designation is based on the Inn’s voluntary commitment to sound environmental excellence through the placement and achievement of high environmental standards. The Jackson Gore Inn is one of 64 Green Hotels to earn the distinguished designation.
Jackson Gore Inn General Manager Charlie Dickerman says, “This is an evolving commitment and we believe that eco-friendly operation can be accomplished with no negative impacts on the quality of product provided at the Jackson Gore Inn.”
Through this program, Vermont’s lodging properties are recognized for their use of sound environmental management practices to reduce their impacts on the environment, save in operational expenses, and satisfy customer demand for environmentally conscious lodging establishments.
At the Jackson Gore Inn, environmental goals are being achieved by using eco-friendly building materials, reducing energy dependency, and minimizing pollution. The resort’s recycling program has increased its reach by reducing the waste of recyclable materials in guest facilities and staff offices, and has further plans to expand its single-stream recycling program at Jackson Gore this winter season. Other green actions include offering overnight guests the option to reuse towels and linens in an effort to help conserve water; cleaning with eco-friendly supplies to reduce environmental toxins; replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting to reduce energy use.
With the Green Hotel designation at the Inn, Dickerman is passionate about continuing to promote environmentally friendly actions and focusing on a greener future. “We are the stewards of this wonderful Vermont environment and we want to be able to provide this same natural experience to future generations of families.”
Jackson Gore Inn isn’t the only area of Okemo embracing the green culture. On the slopes Okemo is reducing energy consumption with its commitment to energy-efficient snowmaking and this year’s addition of 80 specialized guns to its snowmaking arsenal. With the use of this technology and responsible operational practices, Okemo has lowered its annual snowmaking fuel requirements from 450,000 gallons to 258,000 gallons over the course of five years ??вЂњ without reducing the amount of snow produced. Last year, Okemo achieved a fuel-cost savings of $140,000.
Off the slopes, individual staff members are taking their own eco-friendly actions.
Mike Doran, Okemo’s permits and compliance coordinator, has been a pioneer in many of the resort’s steps toward environmental efficiency. Upon his arrival at Okemo in 2007, Doran created the Environmental Committee of Okemo, overseeing eco-friendly initiatives on the mountain and ensuring they’re on task. He also jumpstarted the resort-wide recycling program.
Aaron Weinstein, production associate at the Okemo Sign Shop, is doing his part by working with leftover materials and odds and ends to create new, useable items. His passion for preserving the planet is contagious. “I really feel that if we as a nation were conscious of how much material we produce, consume, and then in turn discard, our habits would change. If everyone found one small way to contribute, all these small efforts would make a larger impact.” In the Sign Shop, Weinstein finds remnants of cut paper from projects the shop creates for the resort, and then uses those pieces to make notepads. “One day I saw one of the piles of remnant paper and said ???Hey, those would make great note pads.’ So ever since they’ve been making their way onto desktops all around the mountain.” Weinstein also takes pieces of discarded vinyl, cardboard and other paper products to local schools and libraries so they can become learning tools rather than landfill.
Okemo’s information systems department started carpooling to work when the price of gas rose during the summer. “We started carpooling to save money,” says IS Specialist Kris Lubinsky, “but we’ve continued because it’s easy for us to gather and it feels good to do something that helps reduce the carbon emissions generated from driving separately.”
Internet Marketing Manager Jennifer Cota orders office supplies for the marketing department. Cota made the effort to order post-consumer recycled copy paper when she noticed the price was no different from other copy paper. Echoing Weinstein, she says, “It’s just one small thing that I am doing, but imagine the impact if we all did one small thing.”
The green revolution is catching on at Okemo, with environmental policies working their way, figuratively and literally, from the top of the mountain all the way to the base ??вЂњ from owners Tim and Diane Mueller, to department heads, to managers, to front-line staff members. Okemo Mountain Resort’s ongoing dedication to eco-friendly operations continues to promote an environmentally friendly culture among guests and staff.
For more information about Okemo Mountain Resort, please call (802) 228-1600 or visit okemo.com. More information about Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State may be obtained by visiting vtgreenhotels.org.