Lifts in Zermatt Have Gone Green
The lifts in Zermatt are operated by the firm Bergbahnen which has spent the past 20 years diligently lowering their footprint, to the tune of up to one million francs every year, ever cognizant of the ecological effect that follows from cultivating this natural environment. A long-term, persistent effort that deserves to be recognized.
Zermatt, being one of Europe’s highest ski resorts, is fundamentally more shielded from the impacts of global warming and seasonal snow shortages (even though 80 percent of the ski area, excluding the glaciers, have a built-in backup system for artificial snow). Nonetheless, Bergbahnen Zermatt has voluntarily embraced environmental regulations and rules dating back to 2002, with three key pillars: resource efficiency, a global approach to energy, and continual renaturation.
Regular improvements and investments have guaranteed that the station has always had the most up-to-date and efficient technical infrastructure. Every area of everyday life has been considered, from transportation to snow cannons, building, repair, car purchase and maintenance… everything has been intended to save energy consumption and symbolize an eco-friendly style of life. One example is the station’s 68 engines, which are more expensive to run but emit 11-13 percent less pollution than previous ones. Bergbahnen Zermatt relies heavily on local hydroelectricity to meet their high-energy needs, and has made significant investments in solar energy, which heats and powers the Matterhorn glacier paradise restaurant (which is certified Minergie-P), the Trockener Steg station, and, most recently, the Matterhorn glacier ride lift. These accomplishments are even more astounding when one considers that the restaurant is positioned at a towering 3,883 m – it even has its own microbiological treatment facility, which filters wastewater directly onsite; a real feat in and of itself!
In terms of preserving and restoring the natural environment, the renaturation pillar of their activities encompasses any region of the ski domain that may be touched by building. A complete inventory has been created, and attempts are being made to revegetate older portions of the ski area that may have been damaged or contaminated. Over 85 percent of them have previously undergone some type of ecological rehabilitation, while obsolete infrastructure is meticulously disassembled and lift cables are constantly recycled for bridge building in Asia. All of these efforts culminated in Zermatt Bergbahnen receiving the well-deserved 2015 Swiss Revegetation Award, which we can all acknowledge as a significant achievement toward a more sustainable future.