STOWE, Vt. – Spruce Peak at Stowe, Stowe Mountain Resort's new base-area development, has earned the Audubon Green Community Award from Audubon International, a non-profit environmental organization headquartered in New York State.
Members of Audubon International's Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for the award, which recognizes environmental achievement and is a milestone en route to earning rigorous designation as a Certified Audubon Sustainable Community. Spruce Peak first joined the Sustainable Communities Program in early 2006, and becomes the first mountain resort in the nation to earn the Audubon Green Community Award.
"The Spruce Peak at Stowe project is the result of many years of collaborative planning and coordination with many varied interests, including all of Vermont's major environmental organizations," said Robert Apple, the resort's Planning Director. "Now as the vision turns into reality we are proud to receive this award from Audubon International and look forward to a continued focus on sustainable development principles throughout the resort."
Spruce Peak's accomplishments include:
* Through a pair of conservation easements donated to the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, over 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat has been permanently protected. Those protected lands include 10 acres of summit ski terrain on Spruce Peak that have been restored to their natural state, providing crucial habitat for the Bicknell's Thrush, and dense forests adjacent to the base village that provide nesting sites for Peregrine falcons, and habitat for moose and black bear.
* With input from Efficiency Vermont, the state's private energy utility, the first phase of Spruce Peak's mountain cabins have been built to the maximum 5-star rating of the EPA's Home Energy Rating System. Each cabin is expected to save $3,500 per year through extensive energy efficiencies. All future buildings are being designed to exceed Vermont's stringent commercial construction energy guidelines.
* Stormwater runoff from the Spruce Peak project area is collected in a new snowmaking pond, protecting the nearby West Branch stream from potentially negative water quality impacts.
* Spruce Peak is committed to addressing transportation impacts in the Stowe Valley. For example, Spruce Peak and Stowe Mountain Resort financially support the Stowe Municipal Trolley system, which alleviates traffic congestion and reduces vehicle emissions along the Mountain Road. Planning is currently underway to extend the Stowe municipal bicycle path to the Spruce Peak base area, encouraging alternative transportation and providing expanded recreational opportunities. The compact pedestrian-friendly base area encourages walkability. And the construction of a new transfer lift between the Spruce Peak and the Mount Mansfield base area has eliminated the need for a fleet of diesel buses to shuttle skiers between the two locations.
* Spruce Peak's new golf course is being built to stringent Audubon International environmental guidelines.
* Spruce Peak has integrated environmental consideration into corporate operations. An incentive program encourages and rewards employees for undertaking environmental projects for the company. All standard office paper is 100% recycled-content. And employees participate in a ride-sharing program during winter, and are encouraged to cycle to work during summer months.
With these environmental accomplishments under its belt, Spruce Peak will now work with Audubon International to more comprehensively integrate sustainability principles into the mountain's planning, policies and practices.
"Spruce Peak has shown a strong commitment to embodying the ideals of sustainability – economic vitality, environmental protection, and social responsibility," says Peter Bronski, Manager of the Sustainable Communities Program. "The Stowe valley is a truly special place. With Mount Mansfield, the vibrant tight-knit community below, and Vermont's iconic pastoral landscape, in many ways Spruce Peak is charged with being the steward of abundant natural and cultural resources, and it's a charge Spruce Peak's leaders take seriously."
About Audubon International: Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 environmental education organization dedicated to educating, assisting and inspiring millions of people from all walks of life to protect and sustain the land, water, wildlife and natural resources around them. Web site – www.auduboninternational.org
About Spruce Peak at Stowe: Stowe Mountain Resort, a member company of American International Group (AIG), is enjoying a dramatic resurgence fueled by Spruce Peak at Stowe, a new slopeside community, and enhancements to the ski area encompassing legendary Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Spruce Peak at Stowe, which is being developed by AIG Global Real Estate, will feature fine residences, a new luxury hotel called Stowe Mountain Lodge, a world-class spa and wellness center, an 18-hole golf course, performing arts center, dining and retail esplanade, swimming pool and ice skating rink. The environmentally sound development was started in 2003, and is concentrated on only 35 of 2,000 pristine acres.
Web site – www.sprucepeak.com