How Forest Products Drive Local Economy – and Heat a Ski Resort sustainably!
I have a great story to tell about how Forest Products harvested sustainably in Maine are driving a local economy, helping to slow climate change – oh and are supporting a fantastic ski experience!
A Beloved Family Ski Mountain
The story is centered at snowy Mt Abram, a family ski and snowboard resort in Southern Maine. The 50+ year old mountain has been a forerunner in trying sustainable practices for years including use of 800 solar-electric panels that support 100% of the mountain’s snowmaking, use of a revolutionary airless
snowguns and electric vehicle charging stations.
Fire Opens up New Opportunities
Forest products enter the story starting in the Summer of 2011 when a freak lightning strike started a fire that burned the mountain’s lodge to the ground. A unique new temporary rubber lodge was built in time for the next ski season and the mountain management decided to install a wood pellet boiler as the heating source. The wood pellet boiler replaced the oil boiler that was also destroyed in the fire.
Wood pellet boilers have been getting a lot of attention recently partially because they are seen as “carbon neutral” and can help support renewable energy goals. In a wood pellet boiler the energy source is mashed up timber or wood waste. The approach is seen as carbon neutral if you assume that a tree used will be replaced with a new tree that will absorb carbon dioxide as it grows, thus offsetting the loss of the first tree. Importantly – the new pellet approach costs about 50% less than before to heat the lodge and surrounding buildings. And…. the heating approach is especially good for the skiers as it keeps the new lodge cozy even when the wind chills go down far enough to chase some people off the slopes.
Supporting the Local Economy
Mt Abram is using the boiler and wood pellets manufactured from local businesses – thus supporting the local community ecosystem. As Maine of course is not a big source of other energy creating resources, it makes a lot of sense for Mainers to sustainably use the natural resource that it does have an abundance of – wood.
What I really like about this approach is that it takes into consideration what makes sense. This exact approach may not work for every region, state or country – but we can all take away a lesson on having a thoughtful approach to growing a business using resources and businesses that are just a short walk down the street.
To learn more about the pellet boiler that Mt Abram is using visit this site.
Read more about the innovative projects of Mt Abram at http://www.mtabram.com/green-initiatives/