Taos Ski Valley is the first ski resort in the world to become a “Certified B Corporation.” The sustainability recognition attests to the company’s commitment to its community, employees and the environment. Organizations with this classification are known for using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. And that’s what Taos Ski Valley has been doing consistently, said CEO David Norden. “Our environmental efforts and investment into the community and the local economy were among the main reasons why the company became B Corp certified,” he said.
Taos Verde – The greening up of the ski valley
An initiative that proved critical to the certification was “Taos Verde,” considered the cornerstone of the company’s environmental efforts. It identifies energy, stewardship, water, waste and engagement as its five core areas of focus.
“The official state question of New Mexico is, ‘Red or green?’”
Norden explained when asked about the initiative’s name. “Here, we choose verde – green. We are all for green building,
recycling and preservation of our rivers and forests.”
One of Taos Verde’s main accomplishments was a considerable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at the ski valley. From
2014 to 2016, the company reduced those emissions of its own making by 10.9 percent.
“We use electric vehicles, upgraded our snowcat fleet to Tier 3 motors and have [energy-efficient] snowmaking systems,” Norden said. “Our snowmaking energy consumption has been reduced by 17 percent, the equivalent to reducing our CO2 emissions by 234 tons.”
The green building techniques used at The Blake, the resort’s newest hotel, also played a crucial part in the program.
“It has an advanced geothermal system for heating and cooling,” Norden said. “We have also implemented new waste-reduction initiatives, like using reusable, collapsible water bottles instead of plastic ones.”
But perhaps the most innovative recycling idea is a partnership with the Taos Earthship Institute.
“We have an exceptional wine menu at The Blake and decided to put the empty wine bottles to good use,” Norden said. “We donate them to the Earthship community so they can be reused as building materials for homes.”
The benefits of sustainability
Taos Ski Valley looks to the future, Norden said, so stewardship of the land is at the heart of the Taos Verde program.
“We have partnered with the United States Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy to improve the forest’s health, restore wildlife habitats, reduce wildfire risks and protect the watershed,” he said. “This also makes for better skiing, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
He points out the fact that many travelers today are inclined to support socially responsible and sustainable businesses. “As soon as we announced that we were a B-certified corporation, we immediately noticed that more people were choosing Taos as a destination,” he said.
Mountain, culture and spirit
When skiers come to Taos Ski Valley, they are not only attracted to its 300 inches of average annual snowfall and uncrowded terrain, but also lured by the uniqueness of the place.
“Many ski areas are owned by large corporations,” Norden said. “But since Taos Ski Valley is independent, that allows us to keep a high level of differentiation while maintaining our strong social mission and the resort’s authentic charm.”
Much of that charm is due to the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. Though, historically, most of the Taos Ski Valley activities have taken place in the winter, Norden has plans to expand them to the rest of the year.
“We have a great story to tell that can attract people in the summer, fall and spring as well,” he said. “We are building on the strengths of the area – the great outdoors, the art and culture of the region and the spirituality of Northern New Mexico – to bring like-minded people here. We are also looking forward to having yoga groups, conferences and weddings at the resort.”
Anchored in the community
The Taos Ski Valley Foundation supports a variety of educational and community programs and organizations, like Amigos Bravos, Taos Land Trust, Taos Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and others.
The foundation donates ski passes and lessons and hosts many charitable events. “Our goal is to promote a robust community,” Norden said. “We continue to form bonds with different organizations and groups. When we opened The Blake, we had a special blessing from Taos Pueblo. It was a beautiful experience. We would like to do more of that and bring all the people together.”