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Knowing where to start can be overwhelming when it comes to increasing sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Many outdoor tourism operations chose to engage in sustainability certification or programming to guide them. The benefits of evaluating and reporting on sustainability include a clear and succinct roadmap to a more sustainable future, increasing guest loyalty, reducing costs related to resource use and other inefficiencies and a reduced carbon footprint.  Below are some snow sports industry specific programs and consultants that can help you walk the talk on climate action and sustainability.

In addition to evaluating operations, infrastructure and advocacy potential at your resort we encourage you to examine your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices. Environmental justice and social justice are inextricably tied, and by working to make snow sports more accessible and equitable for all, we are creating space for even more people who will be willing to take action to protect the outdoors. 


NSAA Climate Challenge: The Climate Challenge is a voluntary program dedicated to helping participating ski areas inventory, target and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Participants in the Climate Challenge have the opportunity to minimize their impact on their natural environment; to save money through energy-saving projects; and to participate in advocacy efforts that can have positive and wide-ranging impacts to their communities. The Climate Challenge positions the ski industry as a leader among outdoor recreation industries in taking immediate and effective action to combat the effects of climate change

Deadline to register: June 30th 2021 (Ask about an extension for 2021/22)

NSAA Sustainable Slopes Program : Now in its 12th year, NSAA’s Sustainable Slopes Grant Program is offering valuable grants to NSAA member ski areas that are endorsers of Sustainable Slopes. It is a modest grant program, but it is having an impact over the long term. Past grant recipients have reaped significant benefits, including more efficient snowmaking equipment, habitat protection, watershed protection, lighting retrofits, waste reduction, on-site renewable energy generation, energy consulting, ROI consulting, climate adaptation consulting, and thousands of dollars in energy savings. These grants can help you earn Sustainability Badges that are new this year and help you meet your targets in the Climate Challenge if you participate in that program

Application Deadline: April 1, 2021  (Ask about an extension for 2021/22)


Natalie Knowles

Nat is a multidisciplinary researcher and consultant focused on triple bottom line (social, economic and environmental) sustainability within the tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo’s Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, researching climate change impacts, adaptations and sustainability transitions in the Canadian ski tourism sector.

Her sustainability consulting and project management experience includes: 

  •       Protect Our Winters Canada: Hot Planet Cool Athletes Program, Value of Outdoor Recreation, Resort Municipalities Coalition, Report on Climate Impacts to Canadian Ski Areas
  •       International Conservation Fund of Canada - Brazil: Kayapo Indigenous Adventure and Ecotourism Project, Camera Trapping and Wildlife Tourism Development
  •       HeliCat Canada: 2020 Carbon Offset Program, 2019 Energy Footprinting and Sustainability Strategy Prioritization Matrix Tool, 2017 Sustainability project, 2019 Economic Impact Report
  •       The Winter Wildlands Alliance (USA): 2018 Socio-economic Impact Report
  •       BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture: Value of Tourism Report (Environmental Sustainability Chapter)
  •       Academic research publications in Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Current Issues in Tourism, Annals of Tourism Research

Through these projects Natalie has experience in a range of methodologies including key informant interviews, community engagement and workshops, stakeholder surveys, climate change impact modelling, energy and emission or offset calculations, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, social-environmental-economic impact assessments, sustainability strategy. Nat is a former ski racer and current avid backcountry skier. 

Affirmative Sustainability

Specializing in sustainability planning for the outdoors industry, Affirmative Sustainablity empowers resort operators to quantify their impact, transition to sustainable operational practices and report progress in an annual sustainability report.

Affirmative Sustainability offers sustainability analysis that report on how your business aligns with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Services are designed to increase the efficiency of your staff in achieving environmental, social and economic sustainability. Outdoors industry operators are poised to become leaders in providing a low-impact and responsible product because we care about our natural world.

You will receive:

  • A snapshot of your corporate sustainability programming.
  • Rating of how your operation is currently doing.
  • Recommendations to make your operations more sustainable.
  • Identification of tracking mechanisms that will substantiate your sustainability goals.

Ski resorts are in varying stages of operational planning but clients often find they are ALREADY taking steps toward sustainability. Many clients choose to use the Sustainability Analysis to inform content marketing and media campaigns. The Sustainability Analysis is also effective in grant applications, for investor relations or for networking partnerships. Affirmative will help you to identify areas of improvement that are economically accessible and that carry the greatest significance in decreasing your environmental impact.


Amil Reddy, DEI Consulting

With over 12 years of experience, Amil works to identify where exclusion or underrepresentation exists in your communications and offerings, work to close these gaps by elevating these marginalized voices and advocating for change. They do this through thoughtfully aligning brand values with communications, building authentic allyship, and creating relevant content which deepens customer loyalty and influences positive social change.

Indra Hayre, DEI Consulting

Indra is a diversity, equity, and inclusion speaker, strategist, and consultant. She works with organizations to develop specific training and workshops based on organizational needs, and can adapt her content to various settings. Her services include redeveloping hiring processes, facilitating training around core DEI competencies, identifying organizational gaps, and much more. If you are looking to integrate a DEI lens into existing practices and work toward creating a more equitable, anti-oppressive workspace, Indra can help navigate that with you.


Stoke Certified 

Using the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria—a globally agreed upon set of standards defined by decades of sustainable tourism research from professionals and scientists around the world—as a foundation, STOKE spent three years researching best practices in the ski tourism industry to develop a system that quantifies the highest standards of sustainable ski tourism practice.

Consisting of 153 metrics that measure the efficacy of sustainability management systems, alpine resource conservation, quality and safety of the riding experience delivery, as well as social, economic, cultural heritage, and environmental impacts, STOKE takes a comprehensive multisectoral approach to the assessment of ski tourism operators. STOKE is the only certification program to have three unique compliance indicators per metric that clearly define the next steps for operators moving towards best practices.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. They are the result of a worldwide effort to develop a common language about sustainability in tourism. They are arranged in four pillars: (A) Sustainable management; (B) Socioeconomic impacts; (C) Cultural impacts; and (D) Environmental impacts. Since tourism destinations each have their own culture, environment, customs, and laws, the Criteria are designed to be adapted to local conditions and supplemented by additional criteria for the specific location and activity.