Breckenridge Certified as a Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination
In 2021 Breckenridge announced their certification as a sustainable mountain resort destination using the Mountain IDEAL standard. Breckenridge was certified by Green Destinations and is only the third destination in the United States to become certified through a program that is accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The certification is the result of a multi-year partnership between the Town of Breckenridge, Breckenridge Tourism Office, High Country Conservation Center, Vail Resorts, Summit County Government, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, Walking Mountains Science Center, U.S. Forest Service, and others. It marks the culmination of two years of leadership by the Breckenridge community in progressive environmental conservation policies and programs.
Like many mountain resort destinations, Breckenridge’s economy is highly dependent on tourism. While the town is home to nearly 5,000 local residents, it welcomes over one million guests annually. Breckenridge has seen tremendous growth since its incorporation as a mining town in 1959 and as a ski resort in 1961.
Recognizing the community-wide impacts of rapid growth, the Town embarked on a series of studies, discussions, and public meetings to further identify and define what sustainability meant to the community. The SustainableBreck Plan was the culmination of those endeavors in 2011 addressing the need to balance resource conservation, economic development, and socio-cultural issues with a growing tourism sector. This plan built on notable past achievements including preservation of 4,425 acres of open space, creation of a workforce housing program and fund, establishment of a child care tuition assistance program, and improvement of a robust land use and development code protecting historical assets of the town. Now in its 10th year, the SustainableBreck program and partnerships have evolved to address 100% renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals, a ban on single use plastic bags, and the transition of the Town’s transportation fleet to electric powered. The most recent accomplishment is the recognition by Green Destinations as a Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination.
training and certification program for local businesses
As part of the certification, the destination must provide a sustainability training and certification program for local businesses. The ResourceWise program, developed and administered by the High Country Conservation Center, is a free program that coaches businesses through improvements to their operational efficiency, employee engagement, and resource conservation. To date, the ResourceWise program has certified over 113 businesses in Breckenridge. In addition to existing employee training programs at Vail Resorts and Breckenridge Grand Vacations, the Breckenridge Tourism Office has begun to incorporate sustainability and responsible tourism trainings in their guest services and visitor engagement programs.