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Grand Targhee Resort Sustainability

Brigid Sinram

Resort Naturalist &
Environmental Programs
Call: 307-353-2300 x1347

Grand Targhee Sustainability ProgramsGrand Targhee Resort's path to sustainability is built upon a responsibility to the environment and community. A central mission of the resort, as outlined in the Grand Targhee Sustainability Charter (links below), is to limit its impact on the local and global environment by making integrated changes that address waste management, energy use and local ecosystems. Grand Targhee is prioritizing sustainability by taking powerful steps to manage its carbon footprint.

In 2007, Grand Targhee Resort became the first North American organization to carry out an in-depth inventory of greenhouse gas emissions through The Climate Registry, and in 2009 and again in 2011 Grand Targhee Resort received the NSAA Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence in the Ski Industry.

Grand Targhee Resort Sustainability Charter

Grand Targhee Resort is dedicated to our environment, the community and the future.

What's so important about sustainability? And who's responsible for it?

Sustainability is the key proactive process that secures the future quality of life on the planet will be vibrant, safe, healthy and accounted for.  It is not a singular program, but a series of programs that make up the system of Sustainability.  Topics such as conservation, renewable energy, recycling, waste management, environmental control, efficient transportation and many more are representative methods for communities to unite in the efforts of Sustainability.

And we are all responsible for it.  It is our duty as human beings to be the gatekeepers of the earth and its inhabitants.  The awareness of this by every individual, exponentially contributes to its success and continuity.   Therefore, the quality of living is sustained by the quality of learning and commitment.

The Sustainability Charter is a declaration of Grand Targhee’s resolve to sustain the future of our environment and community.

Grand Targhee Resort Sustainability Partners

Grand Targhee Resort understands that no institution can make progress towards sustainable operations on its own. Just as it takes a community to raise a child, it takes the resources of a nation to envision and create a truly sustainable business. 

The following is a list of programs Grand Targhee is proud to partner with:

Protect Our Winters National Ski Area Association Carbon Neutral Journal EPA Waste Wise EPA Green Power Sustainable Slopes Yellowstone Business Partnership Keep Winter Cool Bonneville Environmental Foundation Green Vacation Hub Green Hotels

As we continue to expand our sustainability programming, you can be sure our list of partners will grow. The more we can share our knowledge and learn from the experiences of others, the more efficiently we, as a society, will understand what true sustainability looks like.

Grand Targhee Sustainable Facilites Electricity is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions at the resort. Throughout the resort, a number of changes have been implemented to cut electricity use and lighten the resort’s carbon footprint.

In 2009, the Resort partnered with our local utility to conduct an energy audit, identified retrofits and weatherization projects, then went to work implementing projects. We started with low-hanging fruit; operating protocol, weatherization and retrofits, distributing power strips and more.

To engage employees in this initiative, the Sustainability Director presented the electricity conservation initiative to the Management and Supervisors and posed a challenge to the Resort to save an additional 10% electricity use over 2008 (15% total) through modified behavior alone. GTR coordinated a “spot audit” with all Supervisor-level employees, whom were asked to break up into teams and conduct a spot energy audit in a different area of operation than their own and identify any potential electricity savings projects and/or action items. This helped engage employees by having them participate and become more aware of their surroundings. They found lights and heaters on unnecessarily and other wasteful acts that could easily be mitigated through behavior change.

An Energy Conservation Committee, comprised of key members of the leadership team, formed to help manage conservation projects, identify opportunities for additional savings, and be a conduit for information regarding the initiative. This team worked with our Supervisors and front-line staff to create a matrix that identifies all of the opportunities for electricity conservation throughout the entire Resort, from weather-stripping windows to installing “reminder” signage to replacing inefficient boilers.

We then prioritized this list; established timelines for completion, calculated project costs and ROI, and identified a department representative responsible for implementing the initiative. We worked with the local utility to obtain weekly electricity use by meter to more closely monitor progress compared to our goals. This information was discussed at both the committee and bi-weekly Supervisor meetings to ensure it stayed fresh in employees’ minds. We distributed weekly energy conservation tips. The Resort also created miniature cutout characters with long-time Targhee employees’ faces superimposed on them- they had funny sayings such as, “Before you bolt, turn down the volts” and “Do it in the dark.” These were distributed throughout the Resort for employees to use in back of house areas to help remind each other about conserving energy; e.g., if an employee left their lights on, someone could stick a Targhee “Miser” on their light switch as a friendly reminder to turn lights off. Then that employee would have to wait until they found an opportunity to pass on the Miser. This program received great feedback as it was a fun way to get people in the habit of conserving. We also secured a grant from BPA to purchase high-quality socks and distribute to guests in exchange for their willingness to take the Electricity Conservation Challenge, with a goal of saving at least 1 KwH during their overnight stay through various conservation practices. This program was implemented in 2010.

As a result of the electricity conservation initiative, Targhee decreased its total energy use in 2009 14% below 2008 levels and 5% below the five-year average. This equates to a savings of 220 metric tons of CO2 below 2008 levels or 86.5 metric tons of CO2 below the five-year average based on the local utility’s energy portfolio. (Source: EPA Calculator) This translates into a cost savings of approximately $30,000 below the prior year and $12,000 below the five-year average.

Reached approximately 30,000 guests with our electricity conservation messaging through onsite collateral, base-area signage, and in-room signage.

Trained 100% of our employees on energy conservation initiative, distributed electricity conservation tips and had employees document that they were communicated to line employees on a weekly basis, conducted electricity conservation committee meetings every other week to sustain conservation initiative and manage projects, discussed progress compared to our 5% over five-year average reduction goal every other week at our Supervisor meetings, and the resort’s Green Team adopted the initiative as its primary focus for the winter season- helping to create the Targhee Miser characters and monitor overall progress of the initiative on the front line.

Conducted one energy audit with local utility at the beginning of the year and another energy audit with Bonneville Power Administration near the end of the year (2009/2010 season). Identified meters that were tracking higher usage and installed turtle loggers to monitor real-time use information to pinpoint issues. Installed motion/temperature/lighting/occupancy sensors in a few of our hotel rooms and monitored use to set a baseline to measure against the upcoming pilot sock program to see if our overnight guests will modify behavior based on incentive programs and training.

Created tracking matrix that identifies all completed conservation projects, potential projects, ideas for behavior modification, etc. The Energy Conservation Committee is managing this matrix to ensure that all projects are accounted for, progress is being made, capital projects are being considered, and a timeline has been established.

The Employee Housing electricity conservation project helped the Resort save 20% of its electricity use at its employee housing units (in nearby Driggs, ID), or about 80,000 KwHs.

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century reports that renewable energy, alongside cleaner burning fossil fuels and improvements in energy efficiency, is necessary in order to combat global climate change.  Because climate change has the potential to dramatically change how we experience winter here at Grand Targhee Resort, we are taking steps to manage our impact on the climate.

Forward Thinking . . .

Because we are up in the mountains, electricity and fuel has to travel quite a distance to reach us. A more efficient form of energy production that is gaining attention globally is local combined heat and power (CHP) energy production. Therefore Grand Targhee has moved away from buying wind-generated Renewable Energy Credits to offset our electricity consumption.  Instead, we are focusing on how to reduce our energy impact right here at the resort. A feasibility study is in the works with “Fuels for Schools” and the Teton Conservation District to assess the possibility of using biomass from the National Forest for CHP energy production. This project would involve retrofitting the resort’s heating system to use biomass from forest thinning done in USNF for fire suppression.

Grand Targhee is currently looking for ways to cut down on vehicle emissions linked to travel to and from the resort.  While the resort is only 12 miles from the town of Driggs, ID, driving a car just once a week from Driggs to the Resort and back uses approximately 104 gallons of gas, costs about $210, and emits about 2200 lbs. of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Grand Targhee Resort Intelligent TransportationGrand Targhee has implemented a no idling policy in all parking areas and roads on the resort. The resort also offers a free shuttle between the resort and Driggs for the popular music festivals that take place at Grand Targhee during the summer months.

In 2010, the resort purchased stock in the newly formed Yellowstone Regional Transportation Co-Op, sponsored by the Yellowstone Business Partnership. Grand Targhee Resort is providing regional transportation to bring mass transit to Teton Valley, ID and the surrounding region.

Transportation-related Initiatives

  • Employee Carpool Connection
  • No-Idling Policy throughout Resort
  • Purchased of more fuel-efficient moutnain vehicles (Mules, 4-Stroke Snow Machines, ETC)
  • Committed to providing public transportation for 70% of employees and 30% of skiers in conjunction with the future development of the master plan.

Given the number and variety of products the resort purchases, the resort is constantly on the lookout for products whcih meet teh following criteria:

  • Recyclable
  • Make use of recycled or preferred materials
  • Are better for the health of employees and guests
  • Are intelligently (as opposed to excessively) packaged

Grand Targhee Resort purchasing guidelines at work:

  • All copy paper contains 100% post-consumer recycled content
  • Sourcing compostable disposables for our to-go products
  • Used local business to install reclaimed wood trellis for mug club rack & bar in Wild Bills
  • Reducing overall disposables where feasible
  • Inclusion of vegetarian/healthier options in our menus
  • Eco-friendly gear offered at Habitat and Teton Mountain Outfitters
  • Biodegradable cleaning products in housekeeping
  • Replaced all glass bottled beverages in Trap Bar with aluminum cans or drafts
  • Using local businesses for goods & services whenever possible
  • Using low VOC paint in all remodel projects

Opportunities for improving purchasing practices are as varied as the products we purchase are diverse.  Watch for many new and exciting projects to be added to this list in the future.

Targhee has made significant improvements in diverting waste from the landfill through a variety of initiatives.

  • Grand Targhee Resort has reduced its total waste stream by 14.6 tons or 16% from 2008 to 2009.
  • Grand Targhee Resort increased its diversion rate by 5% for a total diversion rate of 47%!
  • Grand Targhee Resort saved 16.8 tons of CO2 through reduction and recycling and 8% in fuel costs from reduced trips to the landfill.
  • Grand Targhee Resort saved approximately $14,600 in landfill disposal fees through its recycling program for a net savings of $2,500 after recycling operation expenses are assessed.
  • Grand Targhee Resort diverted 47% of its waste stream from the two festivals (6,000+ attendants)

Recycling is a huge part of waste management at the resort. In 2002, Grand Targhee began the most progressive and accessible recycling program in the Teton Valley Area.  All departments around the resort continually work to divert more of their waste away from landfills and to the production of new items.

Grand Targhee is able to concentrate waste management efforts at the two large summer music festivals that take place at the resort. Because food and beverage services are located centrally, the resort is able to provide compostable plates, cutlery, cups and napkins to all vendors while collecting all compostable food waste and trash. Compostable materials collected at the music festivals are sent off to regional composting companies that use the waste to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

High Road Biodiesel in the town of Driggs takes waste vegetable oil from the kitchens to make fuel, making for an efficient and valuable form of recycling.

The Grand Targhee staff carries out winter and summer waste audits. This activity allows the resort to pinpoint gaps in waste management efforts in different areas of the resort.

The food and beverage services at the resort encourage everyone to bring reusable mugs for a discount.  Bringing a reusable mug is a great way to conserve resources; buying a disposable cup for your coffee every day wastes up to 20lbs of paper along with the plastic that goes into making the lid.

Forward Thinking . . .

Grand Targhee Resort is is conducting a feasibility study that will look at the possibility of building an on-site composting greenhouse or enclosed composting facility to take food waste from food and beverage services and turn it into super soil for growing vegetables on-site.

Grand Targhee has been working to improve the sustainability of our local ecosystems as well as the global environment. Our stewardship programs in action include:

Grand Targhee Resort Naturalist & Naturalist Tours

Grand Targhee Resort has a Resort Naturalist Program. Our naturalist is on staff and provides environmental leadership for the resort and environmental education for guests and employees. Through our Science and the Environment programs we promote good stewardship of our natural resources through partnerships and participation in the following research projects.

Wolverine Monitoring Program - The resort participates in monitoring wolverines to better understand the animal’s habitat, range, population, and behavior dynamics. Grand Targhee is a partner organization in this project along with Alta, WY 4-H, US Forest Service, WY Game and Fish, ID Fish and Game, Mountain Air Research, Driggs Veterinary Clinic, & the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Whitebark Pine Management program

In partnership with the US Forest Service and the Whitebark Pine Environmental Foundation, Targhee is assisting in the development of best practices for whitepark pine management.

Douglas-Fir Pest Management

Targhee is involved with scientific research on anti-aggregation pheromones to help prevent the spread of Douglas Fir beetles. Glade projects are managed to ensure preservation of biodiversity through appropriate vegetation spacing and age diversification. A chipper is used on-site to create ground cover and keep nutrients within the ecosystem.

Global Initiatives

The resort is also working for sustainability at the global level. Grand Targhee recently carried out an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The resort was the first organization in North America to carry out this in-depth study of our carbon footprint through The Climate Registry. A carbon footprint is a measure of how much carbon is introduced into the atmosphere through the actions of an individual or an organization through fuel, electricity, water use and other activities. You can get an idea of your own carbon footprint by visiting

Teton Valley Community Evironmental InnitiativesGrand Targhee has worked continually to build relationships with the local community to move towards greater sustainability. Below is a list of ways in which we give back to the communities that make our ski resort one of the best in the west.

Over the past four years, Targhee has contributed over $600,000 in cash and in-kind donations to local non-profit organizations.

Targhee has developed and led workshops on green building, renewable energy and organic gardening, which have taken place in the local community

The resort led the first Teton Valley Sustainability Fair in 2008 The resort also takes advantage of the popular music festivals to provide important information and fun activities at the sustainability “Chill” tent. This booth has information about resort sustainability efforts, composting, and global environmental issues. Visitors can also make their own milkshake with a bike powered blender, run a solar powered toy car and watch “low carbon” outdoor adventure films on a projector powered by solar energy.

The resort’s “Targhee in the Community” program supports community projects by paying resort employees to volunteer for local organizations that support and pursue recreational, environmental, educational, and benevolent opportunities and enrichment. In 2007, employees donated 150 hours to non-profit, environmental projects in Teton Valley through this program. The response from the employees has been tremendous; our most recent collaboration was with Friends of the Teton River to help with their “Unnamed Creek Restoration Project.”

Grand Targhee Resort established an environmental foundation in 2004 to provide financial support to organizations within Teton Valley which promote environmental stewardship through their actions. In 2007, the resort partnered with Protect our Winters (POW), a national non-profit dedicated to uniting the winter sports community to address climate change. With this partnership, the environmental foundation became the Targhee Protect Our Winters Foundation. Since it's inception in 2004, this foundation has awarded over $50,000 in grants to local non-profits.

Grand Targhee Resort employees voluntarily sign up to contribute to the foundation through payroll deductions. Management matches funds generated by employee contributions. Grant applications are actively requested from community organizations for project proposals. The proposals are then reviewed and awarded by the “Green Team”- a group of dedicated employees that donate their time to oversee the use of funds generated by the foundation. The “Green Team” is lead by Grand Targhee Resort's Sustainability Director, Christina Thomure.

POW Grant Recipients Include

  • National Outdoor Leadership School: $2,000 for solar panel installation & education project, will provide 30% of the school’s electricity use
  • Friends of the Teton River: $2,000 for a Valley-wide water conservation education campaign
  • Teton Valley Community Recycling: $750 for creation of a short educational film regarding recycling to show throughout the Valley
  • Teton Valley Community School: $2,000 to provide farm & gardening education to 150 school children this summer
  • Teton Valley Education Foundation: $2,000 for sponsoring public high school student’s conservation expeditions to Yellowstone
  • Teton Valley Trails & Pathways: $1,680 to fund one trail crew person to work in the wilderness improving trails In the summer of 2010, the resort introduced a new program that allows community members to volunteer for local non-profit efforts in exchange for winter lift tickets.

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