The award lauds WB’s continued commitment to reducing its operating footprint to zero. “Reducing our operating carbon footprint is deeply embedded into our culture. When surveyed, 72 per cent of our employees said commitment to sustainability was a factor in their decision to work here,” said Arthur De Jong, WB’s Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource Manager. “Achieving a sustainable operational model is not enough on its own to make a difference on a global scale. But if we become a model to global tourism on footprint reduction we can inspire other tourism operators throughout the world to reduce theirs. Only through collective action and reduction of carbon at a global scale can we stop the threat of climate change.”
Here’s an excerpt from the editors’ findings:
-Whistler Blackcomb supports a unique “Habitat Improvement Team” that includes community member and employees (and even guests), working to protect, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Whistler area – established in 1997, the group works with local government and other area businesses and has completed over 100 projects as part of a comprehensive community sustainability plan (called Whistler 2020).
-As part of an in-house “Workplace Conservation Awareness” program, a cross-sectional team of 15 employees meet monthly to develop and manage programs designed to improve conservation initiatives and increase general awareness about sustainability issues.
-WB operates an impressive $32 million micro-hydro-electric plant, which is located inside the ski area and produces enough clean hydro-electricity for its entire operations – offsetting over 11,000 tonnes of carbon and providing the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 3,000 homes.
-Employees also host ecology and wildlife viewing tours for visitors in addition to showcasing its environmental initiatives at interpretive sites throughout the resort property.
-WB introduced aggressive recycling and composting programs back in 2005 and has since implemented many initiatives as it works toward the goal of zero waste – the program covers everything from organic compost and reduced packaging in its restaurants to electronic to paint and waste motor oil disposal.
-They also introduced a policy targeting unnecessary idling, and added lower-emission snowmobiles to their fleet. And approximately 60 employees participate in a carpool program that utilizes seven company vehicles and is estimated to save over 64,000 km of driving as well as over 86,000 litres of fuel.
-Through its “Operation Green-Up” program, WB has a number of ongoing efforts to enhance the natural environment, including projects to limit erosion in watersheds, protect drinking water, and apply planting strategies that reintroduce native species and seed mixes to support wildlife – launched in 1999, the resort area has seen increases in wildlife populations as a result of this program.
-WB recently published a book to outline all of the actions the resort has taken to address climate change and continues to work towards the goal to become the world’s first large-scale tourism destination to have a zero-operating footprint.
More info on Whistler Blackcomb’s environmental commitments here.