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Backcountry fumes and fuming



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Meanwhile, The Watch editor, Marta Tarbell, parrots the famous line from French queen Marie Antoinette. “Let them eat dirt,” she says, “which is the only thing Telluride will be able to afford after paying for the open space.”

Vail Resorts going ‘green’

VAIL, Colo. – Green is the color anyway you look at the $1 billion redevelopment planned by Vail Resorts at the base of Vail Mountain. The project as configured could yield extraordinarly high real-estate product in a town where prices have already hit $3,000 per square foot. The project will include one million square feet.

But the company is also branding it as a “green” real estate development, and plans to seek the silver LEED standard, the second highest of four categories.

Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, said the company will seek a silver certification in the LEED program, the de facto brand for green architecture. If approved, the project will be the largest LEED-certified project for resort use in North America. It would also be one the first proposed projects under a new “LEED’s Neighborhood Development.”

As he did last summer when announcing Vail’s purchase of wind energy, Katz described the green-building plan in vague terms as “the right thing to do” and a way of “connecting with our customers.” Visitors and real-estate buyers in mountain environments, he said, expect environmentally correct action.

Just what makes it the environmentally correct action, however, he did not precisely say. LEED programs allow buildings to accumulate points based on a wide variety of criteria, such as use of paints that do not bother people, to water conservation, lighting, and — increasingly — energy conservation.

Randy Udall, an energy activist based in Carbondale, said Vail’s plans to seek a silver LEED rating for its project is significant — unlike the purchase of wind power last year.

“This is much more significant than their purchase of wind energy credits. This is something real,” he said.

Udall believes that purchase of wind energy credits, as opposed to actually getting wind turbines, provides the illusion of doing something. Other activists, however, say that purchase of wind credits will eventually drive creation of wind farms.

Although Vail has generally skirted from mentioning “global warming” in its new green initiatives, Udall is encouraged that maybe this is an indication of a changed direction.