Sustainability and carbon neutrality in winter sports
Winter sports in general, and skiing in particular, are always under special scrutiny in the areas of use of resources and energy consumption. That is why we would like to do a "fact check" here, without ignoring the fact that these are interventions in nature – but in controlled and verified way.
Before we look at some details, one thing first: only 3% of the total area of the Carnic and Gailtal Valley Alps is accessible for (winter) tourism. At the same time, the facilities in this - comparatively very small - area are employers for many people in the region as well as a motor for income opportunities in a rural region with only few options in the industrial and commercial sector.
Nassfeld ski resort
With 110 kilometres of pistes, 30 modern lifts and regular fresh snow, Nassfeld is one of the TOP 10 ski resorts in Austria. For years, Nassfeld has been operating its 30 lifts and around 460 snowmaking systems with 100 percent green electricity from renewable sources. For the use of the pistes, farmers and landowners receive fair compensation during the winter months. In summer, the areas are used as alpine meadows for grazing. The quality seal of the professional association for cable cars confirms once again the high quality of services and TOP pistes of Bergbahnen Nassfeld Pramollo AG.
Facts about the Nassfeld ski resort
Bergbahnen Nassfeld Pramollo AG makes a relevant contribution to regional development & added value (jobs, use of resources, ...):
- 100 % of the energy requirement for lifts & snowmaking systems from green electricity
- Almost 100 % of the cable car employees from the region, 70 % of them in year-round jobs
- Online ticket shop - simply top up your ski ticket
- Sophisticated ski bus system ensures a strong decline in individual traffic and saves 640 tons of CO² (or 4,000,000 car kilometres)
- Car-free holidays are being promoted - cooperation with ÖBB railways and Bahnhofshuttle Kärnten (train station shuttle) for the "last mile"
The term "artificial snow" is still often used. This term is not accurate, as mechanical snow is exclusively a mixture of water and air. The entire snowmaking system at Nassfeld and in the family ski resorts is fed from river, spring, rain and melt water without any added chemicals.
In order not to burden the natural sources of water, especially in the winter months when runoff is low, reservoir ponds have been constructed at various neuralgic points. High reservoir ponds consume less energy thanks to pump pressure. For example, the new reservoir pond "Rudnigalm" enables us to save 600,000 kWh per year - the reservoir pond "Tressdorfer Alm", which has just been put into operation, achieves similar results in savings. Renaturation measures are already standard in the construction of reservoir ponds.
Through ongoing evaporation or with the melting of the snow, 100 percent of the snow water is returned to the cycle of nature.
The reservoir ponds also play an important role in flood protection: Drainage along the piste areas allows water from the slopes to be diverted into the reservoir ponds in a targeted manner. This counteracts ground saturation and reduces the risk of landslides. In addition, reservoir ponds act as buffer zones. In the event of extreme precipitation in a short period of time, all the water that accumulates on the mountain would quickly flow downhill. This can quickly bring streams and rivers to the limits of their water absorbing capacity. Reservoirs counteract this by partially absorbing the water.
Soil is best protected by a sufficiently deep cover of snow. Damage to plants and grasses by ski edges and piste equipment can thus be prevented. The protective cover of snow insulates and prevents ground frost. It also ensures sufficient ground saturation during periods of low precipitation.
All the energy used for technical snowmaking and lift operation comes from 100 per cent green electricity. The majority of this comes from hydroelectric power plants in the region. Other businesses are supplied by renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind energy, photovoltaics or biomass. Modern snowmaking technology has reduced energy consumption to 1-3 kWh per m³ of snow.
Of the 17 piste grooming machines, 8 are already equipped with snow depth measuring devices. The state-of-the-art GNSS devices measure the snow depth on the slopes during grooming. This ensures an even distribution of the snow. By using this technology, there is a reduction in the number of working hours with the piste bullies. This also allows us to make savings on mechanical snowmaking.
Everyone involved is aware that snowmaking systems, cable car and lift construction and winter tourism developments are interventions in nature. At the same time, however, it is in the very own interest of the infrastructure operators to keep nature intact and to minimise the impact of the infrastructure facilities. After all, we all live from and with it. Therefore, it requires a multi-layered procedure before an investment can even begin. Besides the complex planning with geological and water law aspects, environmental compatibility plays a major role. Independent bodies, such as the Carinthian Environmental Ombudsman's Office, have an important influence here and assess any effects on the local flora and fauna as well as on natural areas in their entirety.
Climate-friendly arrival at the downhill run
The "Millennium Express" valley lift was built between 1999 and 2000 to connect the Gailtal Valley with the Nassfeld ski resort. In the past, there were up to 1,000 car journeys/day to/from Nassfeld, now around 320 t of CO2 emissions are saved per season.
A sophisticated ski bus system with intervals of 20 to 30 minutes invites skiers to leave their cars behind. The buses can be used free of charge in connection with the "PREMIUM WinterCARD". The ski bus system covers the area from Villach across the entire Gailtal Valley and the Gitschtal Valley as far as Lake Weissensee.
In the summer season, all public transport services (bus & train) as well as the biking and hiking buses can be used free of charge with guest cards such as the "+CARD holiday".
Environmental protection in the World of Mountains & Lakes (Nassfeld-Pressegger See, Lesachtal, Weissensee) already starts with the arrival. You can safely leave your car at home on your way to the mountains. The comprehensive mobility provided by bus and train ensures that you can travel stress-free by public transport TO THE region and IN THE region. The S4 rapid transit service, which has been fully electrified since 2019, runs hourly between Villach and Hermagor and, in conjunction with bus services, to almost every village.
A special feature: the "LAST MILE SERVICE". This takes locals as well as guests from the station to their final destination or to the numerous excursion destinations in comfort. www.bahnhofshuttlekaernten.at
Did you know? With the e-car system "FReD" we provide a stress-free rental system. In summer, our unique e-bike rental system with the special service "Rent anywhere, return anywhere" will be added to our range of services.
The e-charging system for cars is constantly expanded. For example, several e-charging stations are available for skiers at the lower terminus of the Millennium Express.
ATTRACTING AND RETAINING EMPLOYEES
The goal of our tourism businesses is to promote employees from the region. Keeping people in the region, giving them income and life perspectives in a unique living and recreational environment, is a top priority. The mountain railway companies alone employ more than 200 people. Of these, 70 percent are in year-round jobs!
REGIONAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY
On behalf of Slow Food International, the region has developed the world's first Slow Food Travel destination with certified food artisans and producers, as well as catering and accommodation establishments, and has set the international standard for this. The primary goal was to harmonise the interests of regional agriculture and tourism. At the same time, we want to give the locals perspectives for staying in the region.
The people of the Lesachtal Valley, Gailtal Valley and Gitschtal Valley and of Lake Weissensee have always lived the Slow Food philosophy "Good - Clean - Fair". In the spirit of this slow enjoyment, they are now letting us look over their shoulders while demonstrating their craftsmanship and passing on their knowledge. The encounters between locals, guests and producers lead to kitchens, smokehouses and maturing cellars, to beehives and bread ovens, to grain mills and butter churns.
This initiative has created additional jobs in the regional craft-based food sector. A new motivation for growing, producing and selling regional food has emerged.
Fancy journeys to the "roots of good taste"? www.slowfood.travel
In order to save resources, the printed materials of the tourism region and at the leisure providers have been reduced to a bare minimum. Interactive piste and leisure maps, hiking and biking maps as well as digital accommodation directories, booking platforms and the leisure companion "my Nassfeld Buddy" offer a sustainable alternative to printed information and directories in the digital age.
However, it is not (yet) possible to do without printed maps and brochures. That's why we use eco-certified paper and sustainable printing methods.