The Snowball Effect

Ski season is in full swing, and while Crystal Mountain CEO Jim MacInnes has seen his share of exciting winters at the award-winning Thompsonville resort, he always marvels at the power snow has on the landscape—and the people.

“Snow has this mesmerizing power to calm the spirit, but also calls us to ‘come out and play,’” said MacInnes. “Its beauty is a constant reminder why we dedicate ourselves to its preservation.”

Crystal Mountain’s leadership has long been passionate about sustainability, clean energy, and protecting natural resources as a core value of its business practices. Its dedication to sustainability is embedded throughout the resort, from promotional materials made from recycled paper, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and energy-efficient lighting, to building the Midwest’s first “Green” spa to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The resort has also made significant investments to lower its carbon footprint, transitioning the new inn’s fossil fuel heat to a closed-loop geothermal system, utilizing 150 electric carts for golfing and an all-electric vehicle for resort security, as well as providing guests and staff with five complimentary electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Crystal Mountain was also among the first to install free public EV charging in northern Michigan.

“Just like a rolling snowball, each action we take towards sustainability compounds,” said MacInnes. “With enough collective action, we can create an avalanche of change.”

Crystal Mountain’s commitment to guests and community has resulted in numerous awards, both in tourism and environmental circles. Most recently, the resort was named “Top 12 Best Family Ski Resort in U.S. and Canada” by Conde Nast Traveler, “Innovator of the Year” by Michigan Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, and “Environmentalist of the Year” by the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. In 2010, MacInnes was among the first to be named a “Green Leader” by the Detroit Free Press.

”We’re very proud of our achievements as hosts and neighbors,” said MacInnes. “We hope it inspires others to make the changes they can and add to our big, growing snowball.”

When it comes to clean energy, MacInnes has long valued the partnership of Cherryland Electric Cooperative and Wolverine Power Cooperative as a Michigan leader. In 2018, MacInnes has another milestone to celebrate as the cooperatives now lead Michigan’s transition to a low-carbon future—Crystal Mountain and all other members are now powered by 56 percent carbon-free energy.

“We’re thankful our energy provider cares as much about environmental stewardship as we do,” said MacInnes. “We’re proud to be cooperative members.”

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