At the Olympic Authority, every day is Earth Day.

For us, preserving our environment not a choice. It’s among our greatest responsibilities. Ours is a team that cherishes winter. We are also one comprised of people who live in, work in, and love the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. So on behalf of both winter and the wilderness, we are committed to acting boldly and investing wisely in the stewardship of our natural environment. We do that on this day and every day.

What actions is the Olympic Authority taking to address climate change?

While our six separate venues offer plenty of activities in the summer months, our true calling is winter. Everything we are today is built on a base of snow and ice, and our Earth needs this precious resource as much as we do. So naturally, we’ve invested in both making winters great and in preserving it.

Two massive solar arrays allow our ski areas make snow from sunlight. One powers Whiteface and another (the largest dedicated to a ski area in the entire United States) powers Gore Mountain. They are generating renewable energy for our snowmaking systems and are annually saving hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

In addition to how they’re powered, our snowmaking systems themselves are also game changers. With new pumps and pipes, hundreds of high efficiency snow guns, and powerful new control systems, our crews are making more snow and making it faster than ever with far less energy. In recent years, despite warmer winters, our ski centers have opened earlier and stayed open later with epic conditions throughout the season.

We’ve also invested in the cleanest, quietest, snow groomers on Earth to keep our trails in great shape. Our current fleet of six Pisten Bully 600E+’s boast engines that drive electric motors and are overall 30 percent more fuel efficient than the best alternative. These machines comply not only with EPA standards here in the U.S. but also with the most stringent emission requirements for off-road machinery in the world.

At all our venues, we’ve made the switch from standard lighting to LED technology that uses 75 percent less energy. These advanced lighting systems also give our teams the ability to control the direction and intensity of light to create the best conditions for athletic competitions, to produce impressive special effects, and to minimize light pollution in our precious night skies.

Along with these technologies, our venues have either eliminated or are in the process of transitioning from fuel oil for boilers to cleaner, more efficient propane. Propane is cleaner burning, produces fewer emissions, and comes with added benefits of being non-toxic and virtually odorless.

Then, there’s our ice. While it’s often taken for granted, our history is one of innovation with ice. In fact, our 1932 Jack Shea Arena was the first indoor ice sheet ever used in the Olympics. Similarly, Mt Van Hoevenberg was the first refrigerated Olympic bobsled track. Today, our Olympic Center’s ice surfaces inside and out are maintained by an advanced refrigeration system that use 20 percent less energy. Every day that system removes that same, consistent load off the local energy grid. Additionally, our ice surfaces are now maintained with fully electric Zamboni ice resurfacing machines that produce zero emissions. And in an especially remarkable innovation, the waste heat from our refrigeration system is used to melt snow on walkways around the Olympic Center, thereby reducing the need for salt in the environment around Lake Placid’s beloved Mirror Lake.

In fact, salt reduction is another environmental preservation practice championed by the Olympic Authority. After actively supporting the Road Salt Reduction Act of 2020, venues took steps to modify salt use and protect water resources in the regions we operate. Our venues also work to educate guests on salt reduction and ask that they drive slower in environmentally sensitive areas.

There are many other smaller but highly impactful ways the Olympic Authority is integrating sustainability into operations. For example, while many of our efforts are designed to reduce our own power use, our venues also support our guests’ efforts to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. To date, Olympic Authority EV charging stations have saved tens of thousands of kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. All our venues are also working with food service partners to locally source foods to shrink the distance from farm to table, thereby decreasing costs and environmental impacts of transportation. In addition, all ticketing is now electronic or printed on reusable and reloadable cards that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. “Frontcountry” hiking opportunities at our venues are another important program, one that leverages our own incredibly beautiful natural areas to offset growing challenges form large numbers of visitors on wilderness trails. Plus, there’s an added benefit in that Olympic Authority venues come already complete with restrooms, retail, and foodservice as well as other engaging and healthy activities that make outdoor adventures easy, safe, and fun.

Protecting the Earth’s environment is the clear reward for all these actions and investments. Recognition for them in the form of awards, however, offers evidence from outside sources that Olympic Authority leadership and actions are substantial and effective. Our Conference Center is LEED Gold certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council, and the New York State Olympic Region itself – a partnership we maintain with the Town of North Elba, the Village of Lake Placid, and the Lake Placid Central School District – is also LEED Gold certified. Additionally, Gore and Whiteface Mountains have also been recognized several times by the National Ski Area Association’s Climate Challenge initiative.

At the Olympic Authority, we know that to save our winters and secure a healthy future climate, we all have to act now. Earth Day offers an opportunity for all of us to reflect on what we can do to help provide a sustainable path for our planet. For our future and for everyone’s future, we are not waiting. We are investing today and taking action every day. We are committed to serving the people of the State of New York and the world as global leader in preserving our precious environment.