Zermatt’s Lifts Go Green
Ever conscious of the ecological impact that results from developing this natural environment, the Zermatt lift operating company (Bergbahnen) has spent the past 20 years actively reducing their footprint, to the tune of up to one million francs each year. A sustained, long-term effort that deserves recognition.
As one of Europe’s highest ski stations, Zermatt is inherently more protected from the effects of global warming and any lack of seasonal snow (even though 80% of the ski area, excluding the glaciers, have a built-in backup system for artificial snow). And yet Bergbahnen Zermatt has voluntarily adopted environmental protections and policies dating as far back as 2002, which revolve around three primary pillars: an efficient use of resources, a global approach to energy, and constant renaturation.
Regular upgrades and investments have ensured the station stayed abreast of the latest and most efficient technical infrastructure. Every aspect of daily life has been taken into consideration, from transportation to snow cannons, construction, restoration, the acquisition and maintenance of vehicles… all of it is designed to reduce energy consumption and embody a way of life that is as eco-friendly as possible. One example is the station’s 68 engines, which are more expensive to operate but which pollute 11-13% less than traditional models. To meet their high-energy needs, Bergbahnen Zermatt relies heavily on local hydroelectricity 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 achievements are all the more impressive when one takes into account the fact that the restaurant is perched at a dizzying 3,883 m - it even has its own microbiological treatment plant, which filters wastewater directly onsite; a veritable achievement in its own right!
And when it comes to maintaining and restoring the natural environment, the renaturation pillar of their efforts covers any area of the ski domain that may be impacted by construction. A detailed inventory was compiled and efforts are underway to revegetate older sections of the ski area which may have been damaged or polluted. Today, over 85% of them have already undergone some form of ecological restoration, while outdated infrastructure is carefully dismantled, and lift cables are continuously being upcycled for bridge construction in Asia. All of these efforts combined led to Zermatt Bergbahnen being awarded the well-deserved 2015 Swiss Revegetation Award, something all of us can recognize as a great achievement towards a sustainable future.