Our environment is our livelihood.
We live that motto in how we approach the use of natural resources, energy consumption, and ways in which we can improve our practices and culture with decisions that will preserve what we have for future generations. It is a multi-faceted approach and one we take seriously at Sun Valley Resort.
We continue our dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility by making energy efficient upgrades to our mountain operations, buildings and employee practices. Established as America’s first destination ski resort in 1936, Sun Valley has made numerous updates and renovations over the years. The most recent include the renovation of the historic Sun Valley Inn, the rebuild of the Warm Springs Day Lodge, and moving the employee housing from dated buildings to entirely new employee housing buildings with a focus on energy efficiency, comfort, and a modern place to live.
Sun Valley Resort and the United States Forest Service (USFS) continue their partnership for the Healthy Forests Initiative last summer (2018), resulting in almost 18 acres of additional gladed skiing on Bald Mountain and bringing the overall total number of acres to 81. The Healthy Forests Initiative improves forest health by clearing overstocked vegetation and trees to reduce hazards and destructive insects.
Forest thinning is a vital aspect of decreasing the risk of fuel for wildfires, which are increasing with climate change each year. While it does not prevent climate change, it does promote and support responsible forest management by reducing the available fuel for wildfires, and invasive and harmful insects. Tree mortality from beetle kill, drought, and mistletoe have dramatically impacted the tree vegetation on Bald Mountain. Taking steps to curb the impact of these elements by removing dead and dying trees reduces the risk of catastrophic fires. The return on investment is a healthier forest, reduced fire danger, and improved terrain for skiing.
Known for consistent conditions and one of the most sophisticated snowmaking systems in the industry, Sun Valley Resort leads the industry with energy efficiency and the reduction of resources with the replacement of the older Borax guns with the highly-efficient Rubis EVO snowmaking guns. Of the 578 snowmaking guns on the mountain, 283 have been replaced with the Rubis EVO snowmaking guns since 2014.
Gun Type Horsepower Cost per acre foot of snow
Borax 45 $438
Rubis EVO 3 $18
2016 | 125 Borax guns replaced
Borax | kWh/yr. = 770,625
Rubis EVO | kWh/yr. = 73,500
Savings | kWh/yr. = 697,125
2017 | 75 Borax guns replaced
Borax | kWh/yr. = 462,375
Rubis EVO | kWh/yr. = 44,100
Savings | kWh/yr. = 418,275
Total savings for guns replaced in 2016 and 2017 = 1,115,400 kWh/yr.
Annual Average Savings per gun (283 guns) = 5,695 kWh/yr.
Total Savings for all 283 guns replaced = 1,582,390 kWh/yr.
We are saving enough energy to power 127 homes for one year. Quite a savings!
Idaho Power Incentive Program
Since 2014, 282 older guns have been replaced with newer and more efficient Rubis EVO guns with the assistance of Idaho Power. The incentive program has saved 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year from 2014-2017, significantly reducing the energy use of snowmaking guns on the mountain.
Media | Articles
Idaho Mountain Express | “Sun Valley’s Snow Guns Boost Base in Lean Winter” | January 26, 2018
Boston Globe | “If Utah and Colorado are Hawaii, Sun Valley is Tahiti” | March 7, 2018
Sun Valley took delivery of two Prinoth Leitwolf groomers in December 2015. These incredibly efficient groomers deliver a product that the discerning Sun Valley guest comes to expect from the resort while reducing emissions and energy use.
Prinoth Leitwolf groomers are equipped with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 final engine, the cleanest engine technology in North America. They emit 90% fewer emissions through the “Stage IV/Tier 4 final” standard, the benchmark for the cleanest exhaust emissions for groomers in the industry. Prinoth Leitwolf groomers combine outstanding performance and high-tech solutions with extremely low fuel consumption and optimal handling. The innovative engine technology has led to a significant reduction in emissions, while at the same time enabling higher engine output.
Sun Valley is planning to upgrade their remaining older snow groomers with more efficient “Tier 4 final” models in the future.
Lower carbon emissions, less energy use, and higher efficiency
The on-mountain lighting systems have been steadily replaced with more energy-efficient ones. Idaho Power has an incentive program that provides energy and cost savings both on-mountain and at the base areas.
Lighting systems replaced: lift terminals, lift huts, and ski patrol hut.
Energy | Estimated annual savings | 3,386 kWh/yr.
Lighting system replaced | mountain operations building
Energy | Estimated annual savings | 41,104 kWh/yr.
Lighting system replaced | River Run base area storage bay
Energy | Estimated annual savings | 4,001 kWh/yr.
A lighting system replacement project is currently in progress at the Ski Patrol headquarters building on Bald Mountain.
The Sun Valley Employee Housing Project takes a significant step in the quality of employee housing. Affordable places to live is an increasing challenge for most mountain and resort towns as long-term rentals are taken off the market, making it increasingly more difficult to live and work in these communities.
The first employee housing building was completed in December 2018, and the second one is scheduled to be done by June 2019. Upon completion of both buildings, 178 rooms will accommodate over 575 employees living and working at Sun Valley Resort. The new employee housing buildings are replacing older buildings, such as the Moritz, built in 1961. Other dorms are being removed in the process, with the intention of repurposing this area for more open space and greenery.
The location of the employee housing is very convenient for employees to take the free shuttle service (Mountain Rides) to town, to the base areas, or a short walk to the Sun Valley Village. The Wood River Bike Path and the Mountain Rides bus stop is also within walking distance, encouraging less car use and more human-powered and public transportation.
Building 1 / Aspen | Completed - December 2018
Rooms / 111
Types / 91 quads and 20 doubles
# of Employees / 348-464
Amenities and Features / Fitness room-gym, multi-purpose room (lounge), lockers/storage, and a free employee laundry facility. High-speed wireless internet in the common areas and some individual rooms.
Building 2 / Alpine
Rooms / 62
Beds per room / 1-2
# of Employees / up to 124
Projected Completion | Spring 2019
Here are the energy conservation and green building features in the new buildings:
Solar Photovoltaic panels have also been installed on both buildings to optimize one of our natural resources that we have no shortage of in Sun Valley – sun!
Built in 1993, the Warm Springs Day Lodge at the base of Bald Mountain, set the standard and created a trend in beautifully made and luxurious day lodges. Tragedy struck a few days after the last day of the season in 2018, when the building caught fire, causing extensive damage to the roof, windows, and sections of the building. Fortunately, due to the efforts of the local fire departments, the fire was contained, and the integrity of the structure remained intact.
Sun Valley Resort quickly got into action to rebuild the beloved lodge. An unfortunate incident turned into an opportunity to restore and improve the layout, energy efficiency, and features of it. The Warm Springs Day Lodge reopened on December 15, 2018, just eight months after the fire.
Here are the energy conservation and green building features made during the rebuild:
Media | Television Segment
KTVB-TV (NBC-Boise) | “Iconic Warm Springs Lodge re-opening Saturday after severe fire damaged it in April” | Dec. 14, 2019
Initially built in 1937 and known as the Challenger Inn, and now the Sun Valley Inn, underwent the first phase of the most recent remodel in the fall of 2017. The first 25 of the 105 guest rooms were renovated, along with The Ram, The Ram Bar, and the new Village Station. Phase two of the renovation had the remaining 80 guest rooms overhauled, and the classic archway put back into the structure.
Here are the energy conservation and green building features made as a result of the remodel:
Our Austrian-themed restaurant, the Konditorei, earned a 3 Star Certification by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) in 2018. The GRA is a national nonprofit organization helping restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable. The Konditorei received 224.19 GreenPoints™ on the GRA’s rigorous certification scale by implementing 75 environmental steps, making the Konditorei the first restaurant to receive this designation at a ski resort and second in the state of Idaho.
Highlights of the GRA 3 Star certification and how the Konditorei earned it:
The Konditorei’s manager, Matt Robinson, leads the charge as a member of the Idaho Conservation League’s Energy Leaders for Idaho’s Environment (ELIE) group. True to supporting environmental causes and issues and helping to bring them to light to the public, the Konditorei hosts coffee talks in conjunction with the Idaho Conservation League and the Environmental Resource Center, with topics such as “How Does Snowmaking and Energy Connect?” presented by Sun Valley Resort’s snowmaking manager, Dennis Harper.
Approximately 91,182 kilowatt-hours are saved annually due to lighting retrofits in four of our largest maintenance facilities.
The recently revamped laundry facility saves about 75% more water than a standard laundry facility, which in turn, reduces the use of soap and washing chemicals.
Recycling programs are integrated throughout the resort and at the mountain lodges. Reusable water cups instead of plastic or paper cups are used in most areas that have kitchen facilities. Recycling bins and areas are located in offices in the Sun Valley Village.
The composting program has resulted in 125.6 tons of kitchen and lawn waste composted instead of being dumped into a landfill.
Reusable water cups are used throughout the resort at the water stations located throughout the resort – both on and off the mountain.
The Sun Valley Golf Courses have water and ice refilling stations on the courses instead of one-time-use water bottles.