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‘Cow power to solar power’ – Killington redefines sustainability

8th December 2020 | Craig Altschul

News Regions: Vermont

Resorts in this article: Killington Resort

Killington's K1 Gondola fueled by cow power

Killington's K1 Gondola fueled by cow power

Copyright: Courtesy of Killington Resort; Chandler Burgess

Need a megawatt of brightness as 2020 comes to an end? We all do. So, as we cope with negative news all around, it’s time to check back in on a positive story that’s been unfolding at Killington Resort in the Green Mountains of Vermont for several decades: Sustainability.

Much of the impetus began with a partnership between cows and their local farmers, Green Mountain Power and Killington Resort that jump-started in 2003. Vermont, as all locals and visitors know, has about as many cows as it has snowflakes. And, well, that makes for a lot of reusable deposits in the fields.

Converting cow manure into renewable energy prevents harmful methane from reaching the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that accounts for the majority of agriculture’s emissions.

Now to the point: The K-1 Express Gondola, which transports you comfortably up the mountain and the Peak Lodge at the summit with views of five states and Canada, are solely energized by cow power.

“As a destination that wants to be around for generations to come and yet is in a weather dependent industry, it is imperative for us to reduce our carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy sources,” Mike Solimano, Killington’s president and general manager told OnTheSnow.com. 

“It is our goal to make Killington and Pico world-class properties in sustainability, and we have high expectations for ourselves and from our guests to be innovative when it comes to environmental responsibility,” he said.

Cow power energizes K1 Express Gondola at Killington  - © Courtesy of Killington Resort; Chandler Burgess

Cow power energizes K1 Express Gondola at Killington

Copyright: Courtesy of Killington Resort; Chandler Burgess

The innovative “moo-ves” at the so-called Beast of the East don’t stop in the nearby cow barns.

The resort has significantly reduced its consumption of dirty energy by installing 14 AllEarth Solar Trackers and three rooftop solar installations which, combined, generate approximately 200,000 kWh of clean electricity annually. 

Killington also partners with Namaste Solar to operate four off-site solar farms in Vermont. The generated electricity is enough to power all lifts at Killington and Pico, with exception of the work the cows unwittingly do for the K1 Express Gondola.

“From cow power to solar power, the Killington team is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to reduce impact and inspire others to do the same,” says Solimano.

There’s more, too. Killington operates what it claims is the world’s most extensive snowmaking system and uses a wide range of snow gun technology to offer long seasons. Some 72 percent of annual snowmaking hours are with low energy guns.

Is an electric car in your future? Killington provides 47 chargers throughout the resort. It’s food and beverage operation partners with Grow Compost of Vermont to divert food scraps and waste generated in its kitchens from going to landfills. They also have converted 12 walk-in coolers to Freeaire Refrigeration which turns off the existing compressor-based cooling system and replaces it with energy efficient fans that pull cold air from outside into the cooler. 

Still more: Killington owns and operates two wastewater treatment facilities which recycle treated wastewater effluent to its base lodges to be used for flushing toilets.  

It doesn’t stop at Killington, of course. A recent Vermont Ski Areas Energy Savings Impact Report revealed that the state’s ski areas have completed 668 environmental projects since 2000 with the anticipated lifetime savings of these projects at more than 989M kilowatt hours of electricity. 

They don’t call them the Green Mountains for nothing.





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