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Ski Areas: Preventing Pollution
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons to Change
Environmental Management
Preventing Pollution
Where To Go for Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Best Management Practices to Protect Golf Course Watersheds
Best management practices and integrated pest management for protection of natural resources on golf...

Comprehensive Procurement Guide
Offers a data base of manufacturers and suppliers of commercial/industrial products and their recycl...

Greening Your Ski Area
The handbook provides environmental strategies for on-mountain operations, as well as for management...

Sustainable Building Technical Manual
Department of Energy Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development comprehensive manual for desig...

Opportunities to prevent pollution and reduce waste vary with the operation. Listed below are some suggestions specific to various common ski area operations.


  • Develop and implement environmental purchasing guidelines (The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) has compiled information that will assist purchasers in their efforts to establish or maintain an environmental purchasing program.
  • Implement an environmentally preferable chemical purchasing program
  • Purchase energy efficient and low mercury lighting
  • Purchase paper that is non-chlorine bleached and made of at least 30 percent post-consumer waste content
  • Purchase Energy Star® rated equipment and appliances
  • Replace two stroke engine snowmobiles with four stroke engine machines

Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

  • Institute a snowcat hydraulic line break preventive maintenance program
  • Use aqueous parts cleaners in place of solvent parts cleaners
  • Institute a product selection process to select shop chemicals (for example brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, engine degreaser and lubricants) that have constituents that are less harmful to human health and the environment
  • Use refillable spray bottle for products commonly used in aerosol cans
  • Use a used oil heater to supplement or replace other forms of shop heating
  • Use a floor cleanup method that avoids the use of absorbents except in emergency situations
  • Use re-refined oil instead of virgin oil
  • Switch to oxygenated gasoline
  • Use preventative maintenance on all equipment to assure optimal efficiency and longevity

Lift Operations

  • Purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, geothermal, or methane-based power
  • Use aqueous parts cleaners in place of solvent part cleaners
  • Use refillable spray bottles for products commonly used in aerosol cans
  • Use re-refined oil in diesel engines
  • Install top-drive lifts
  • Install harmonics filters to mitigate negative effects of harmonic distortion
  • Take actions to reduce the maximum demand on a meter over a billing cycle (a technique known as peak shaving, load management, and load shedding)
  • Review energy bills to understand rate structure
  • Select premium efficiency motors to operate lifts
  • Install energy efficient lighting in lift houses and towers
  • Install timers in heaters in lift houses
  • Reduce the number of heaters in the return terminal houses
  • Install high-altitude brushes on lift motors
  • Install dark, galvanized lift towers and cross arms that never require paint
  • If lift towers are painted, paint with latex paint

For a case study on how one ski area built an ecologically sound ski lift above treeline, go to

Food and Beverage Service

  • Consider waste reduction and reuse programs, such as reusable silverware and cups in place of disposable equivalents
  • Institute a comprehensive recycling program for glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and mixed paper
  • Use biodegradable plates, garbage bags, napkins, utensils, and straws
  • Purchase products made of recycled content such as bathroom tissue, paper towels, paper napkins, facial tissue, register tape etc.
  • Purchase paper products that are not chlorine bleached
  • Enroll in EPA's and DOE's Energy Star® Program
  • Conserve energy by purchasing Energy Star® appliances and instituting energy efficiency best practices
  • Switch to energy efficient and low mercury lighting alternatives
  • Institute a product selection process to select chemicals (for example carpet care, sanitizers, descalers, disinfectants, dispenser soaps, floor cleaners, grease cutters, hand soaps, oven cleaners, polishes, general-purpose cleaners) that have constituents that are less harmful to human health and the environment
  • Use water conservation techniques and technologies
  • Compost food waste
  • Purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, geothermal, or methane-based power

Building (including lodging)

  • Enroll in EPA's and DOE's Energy Star® Program
  • Switch to energy efficient and low mercury lighting alternatives
  • Institute a product selection process to select chemicals (for example carpet care, sanitizers, descalers, disinfectants, dispenser soaps, floor cleaners, grease cutters, hand soaps, oven cleaners, polishes, general-purpose cleaners) that have constituents that are less harmful to human health and the environment
  • Use only latex paint
    • Purchase carpet with the following characteristics:
    • Modular
    • Durable
    • Made of recycled or renewable resource content (carpet and backing)
    • Recyclable
    • Carpet, carpet padding, and adhesives that emits low-levels of VOCs
  • When disposing of electronic equipment, ensure that it is being properly recycled
  • Use water conservation techniques and technologies
  • Purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, geothermal, or renewable methane-based power
  • When possible, consider proven new technologies for energy generation and implement


  • Select a snowmaking system that uses the lowest possible energy that sufficiently operates the system for its anticipated life
  • Create a snow reservoir to use as snowmaking water supply instead of pulling from natural streams and lakes
  • Consider wet bulb and dry bulb temperature to determine when to make snow and maximize snowmaking efficiency
  • If additives are used in snowmaking system, ensure the additives are not harmful to the environment
  • Use water cooling systems or cooling tower to cool water before it is used to make snow
  • Install system control automation to increase efficiency of snowmaking system
  • Install energy efficient air compressors
  • Utilize techniques and technologies to improve compressed air system performance
  • Inspect for and repair air leaks in air compression systems
  • Inspect for and repair water leaks

Grounds Maintenance

  • Implement water-conservation techniques including:
    • Irrigate to reduce water use according to local climate and growing season
    • Select and plant vegetation and turfgrass that are indigenous to the climate
    • Use alternative sources such as partially treated wastewater or collected rainwater
    • Develop a watering schedule that maximizes water uptake by plants
    • Install a computerized weather system
    • Use global positioning systems and geographic information systems
  • Develop and implement an integrated pest management program
  • Become involved in environmental programs for golf courses offered by Audubon International, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, US Golf Association Green Section, and the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program

Sustainable Design and Construction

  • Increase energy and water conservation and efficiency
  • Increase use of renewable energy resources
  • Reduce or eliminate toxic and hazardous substances in facilities, processes, and their surrounding environments
  • Select materials and products that minimize safety hazards and life-cycle environmental impacts
  • Increase use of materials and products with recycled content and environmentally preferred products
  • Recycle and salvage construction waste and building materials during construction and demolition
  • Reuse existing infrastructure, locate facilities near public transportation, and consider redevelopment of contaminated and out-of-repair properties
  • Consider off-site impacts such as storm water discharge rates and water quality
  • Include "low energy and low water usage" experience as selection criterion when selecting an architectural engineering firm to design a new building
  • Require architects and engineers to perform energy use simulations for building designs
  • Consider alternative designs and technologies for remodels and new construction to reduce construction, maintenance, and operating costs
  • Integrate sustainable design into project management
  • Engage local communities, environmental groups, government agencies, and other stakeholders
  • Make water, energy, and material efficiency and clean energy use priorities in the design of new facilities and the upgrading of existing facilities
  • Respect the outstanding natural resources and physical "carrying capacity" of the local ecology in planning new projects
  • Use long-life, low-maintenance materials in buildings
  • Include parks, open space, and native landscaping in base area developments
  • Maximize alternative transportation modes in and around the base area


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Ski Areas Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 12/2/2013