As a ski resort, we derive and utilize a number of different, unique, and individual resources in order to ensure that everything on-resort runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible at all times. This could be anything from the water we use to make snow, to the energy we use to light lodging. With utilizing resources comes the responsibility to carry out these operations sustainably. This is where our Sustainability Manager shines. We sat down with Connor O’Sullivan and chatted all things sustainability – what we have done to be sustainable in the past, current projects, and exciting things to look forward to in the future.
What is your position at Stratton?
I am the Sustainability Manager here at Stratton Mountain.
How did you get started at Stratton?
After graduating college where I studied Ski Resort Management and Business Management, I came down to Stratton and worked at the Burton retail shop for a winter. From there, I transitioned to the cash room and over time became an Audit Accountant. After I did that for a few years I decided to go back to school at NYU and take their Corporate Sustainability Program, leading me to my current position at Stratton which I have been in for 3 years now.
How was transitioning from Ski Resort Management, to Accounting, and finally to Sustainability?
Having the finance experience at the resort helped in a big way. I was able to see how money flowed in and out of the resort, while also seeing how our utility structure works which allowed me to understand that A. there is a real financial benefit to doing efficiency projects around the resort and B. becoming a more sustainable resort is the right thing to do for the future of the business, environment, and people. But to answer your question, it wasn’t easy and I’m still learning through my experiences. Fortunately, there is a great sustainability community at Stratton and in this industry. The ability to learn and progress is readily available as well which helps when working with so many different aspects of operation happening at Stratton.
What is your favorite part about being the Sustainability Manager?
I think my favorite part in general is looking at what the future holds. When I was a kid, I was super hyped on snowboarding and being out in the mountains. You’re able to be out in an environment that you don’t always get to be in. I think that’s why I am so invested in these sustainability projects. I like to know that what I’m doing is ensuring that the younger generation, kids that haven’t even been out in the mountains yet, will be able to enjoy the mountains the same way I did when I was their age which all leads back to having a healthy outdoor environment for people to experience.
Could you tell us about 1. projects in the past you’ve enjoyed being a part of, 2. current projects that are happening on-resort and 3. projects to come in the future?
Yeah for sure. I would say the biggest and most exciting project I have been a part of is our Community Solar Partnership which we are going into our second year of. This project stands out because it’s given Stratton the opportunity to support solar development in the state of Vermont which goes back into our green energy grid. Stratton is one of many businesses that is supporting this solar energy site in Wallingford, VT. So, unlike onsite generation (eg. putting solar panels on roofs), coming together with a number of different businesses is beneficial financially while also helping to support larger community projects.
Another exciting project that has been in the works and is still in motion is the installation (and future expansion) of EV chargers on resort. We currently have 11 EV chargers — the first 3 chargers we had installed 2 years back are located at the Welcome Center and 8 (new this year) chargers are in Lot 1, with plans to expand and update in the near future. We are currently in the process of mapping out where new chargers will get the most use, and also where existing chargers could use a system update for faster function. Our goal is to have charging expand to the Sun Bowl, Golf Course, Fitness and our lodging locations.
Last year, along with the other Alterra resorts we completed an ASHRAE audit of the resorts main infrastructure. These studies deep dive into the gamut of our systems from lighting and HVAC to snowmaking. After this study was conducted, we were able to identify and triage some meaningful projects across the resort. One of the more exciting projects we’ll be working towards is a resort wide Active Energy Management System. This will aid in bringing our building systems visibility and control up to a new standard. Helping to limit energy consumption in a more streamlined way. Last but not least, to add a new tool that can help with the amazing work our maintenance teams do in keeping the resort operating at its best throughout the year.
It was a pleasure being able to sit down with Connor and dive into his world of sustainability. The position he holds is vital to our resort and after chatting, it was made very apparent how passionate he is about ensuring that we are doing everything we can to be green and sustainable. We hope that this gives you a little bit more insight on what Stratton is doing to help protect the environment, while also highlighting one of our valued employees. Happy Earth Day!
Published 4/22/23 by Harley Smith