GUEST VIEW: Energy-saving efforts pay off for Crystal Mountain

The following editorial was published in the May 25 edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

(AP) Northern Michigan’s climate is changing. The management at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa has worked for years to trim energy use and thereby lessen the business’ impact on climate change. The resort heartily deserves the industry recognition it received this month when it won a 2018 Golden Eagle Award for leadership on climate change advocacy and action.

Crystal Mountain CEO Jim MacInnes, a former electrical power engineer, has helped guide the resort toward energy-efficient operation for decades. His oft-repeated mantra is that global warming is bad for the skiing business. His efforts at the resort aim to help both the business and the planet.

Continuing efforts to conserve energy earned Crystal Mountain recognition from the National Ski Area Association and SKI Magazine, who for 25 years have presented annual awards for efforts to increase ski area sustainability.

Crystal Mountain earned the Climate Change Impact award for its dedication to overhauling the resort’s infrastructure, according to an article posted this month on SkiMag.com.

“Husband-and-wife team Jim and Chris MacInnes, CEO and president, respectively, have worked tirelessly to set an example, installing EV charging stations, moving 56 percent of the resort’s power sources to clean energy, and building a LEED-certified spa. Their current project, a renovation of the Inn at the Mountain, features an innovative closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system. Leading by example, the MacInneses have elevated Crystal’s status as an industry innovator,” the article stated.

Crystal earned the award by beating out the other two finalists, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and Boreal Mountain Resort in California. Jim and Chris MacInnes also were finalists in the contest’s Hero of Sustainability category.

Ski resorts have a vested interest in combating climate change. Warmer temperatures mean less snow, and that translates into fewer ski days and reduced income.

Most ski resorts in Michigan and elsewhere have been forced to compensate for warmer winters by investing in an ever-increasing array of snow-making machinery. That is simply a business necessity.

Crystal has devoted a great deal of extra effort to battle global warming, changing its infrastructure from the ground up to use less fossil fuel and less energy in general.

The MacInneses and Crystal Mountain have shown that a small ski resort in northern Michigan can use intelligent design and hard work to outpace their competitors, even those in the skiing powerhouse of the mountain west.

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