Laax ski resort in Switzerland has been putting the environment to the forefront of its resort planning to an ever greater degree in recent years.
Laax introduced a concept they called ‘Greenstyle’ - an initiative that they say is about taking real measures to cut their CO2 output rather than being the marketing ‘greenwash’ which some ski areas have been guilty of in the past (to make such resorts look like they are doing a lot on the environment when in reality they are not).
As a result the Weisse Arena Gruppe which runs Laax now relies on renewable energies and efficient technologies to power their facilities. In addition to hydro-electric power, the ski area uses a range of photovoltaic systems on the mountain and at its new rail systems. The Weisse Arena Gruppe received the European Solar Prize in 2016 for its efforts and Laax is now one of the 23% of leading ski areas worldwide that acquires 100 per cent of its energy needs from CO2-neutral sources. Its next project, a wind farm on the Vorab Glacier, aims to generate energy from wind power.
“As recently as 20 years ago, we used to regularly have snowboard summer camps on the Vorab Glacier in the middle of July,’ Reto Fry, sustainability manager at the Weisse Arena Gruppe recalls, but says that the vast decline of the glacier means this is no longer possible today.
Temperatures in the Alpine region have risen twice as much as the global average over the last 100 years.
“According to a projection by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the snow season is becoming one to two days shorter every two years. This development is already noticeable. While visitors could enjoy an early start to the season at the end of October some years ago, the first snow now often falls later. This is also the case in LAAX. The snow line has risen, with snow falling later. For a region renowned for winter sport tourism, the changing climate conditions are a real challenge,” a statement from Laax reads.
Other Greenstyle initiatives already introduced include reducing waste and having an efficient recycling system; using sustainable building materials to protect natural resources; implementing wildlife, water and plant protection measures; support for fair trade products produced locally and in an environmentally friendly manner and using their Influence on industry, suppliers and partners to promote sustainability.
Laax say their goal now is to use exclusively sustainable resources in the near future and become what they describe as, “the world’s first self-sufficient winter resort,” and are now working with suppliers in the wider region to encourage this through their Greenstyle Foundation, “I try to ensure a good life for my children and want them to be able to breathe clean air. I do everything in my power every day to make this possible,” Fry concludes. laax.com/en/greenstyle