What with the flights, the heating in your wood chalet on high, the lifts circling up and down the runs – unless you already live in a snowy, mountainous country, it would be rare for the words ‘skiing’ and ‘sustainable’ to be used in particularly close conjunction.
But apparently, things are a-changing on this front – maybe so much, in fact, that rather than you go to the slope, the slope comes to you. On top of your local waste-to-power plant.
Replacing a 40-year-old incinerator with a smarter method of dealing with municipal waste may seem like quite a challenge in itself – but building a ski slope on top that doesn’t lead to a few snow bunnies being accidentally converted into energy only adds another, somewhat surreal, layer to the scale of ambition.
Of course, it’s fine to start elaborating a bit once you’re already making big strides in sustainability. As the story points out, more than half of Denmark ‘s waste is already used to create energy – and the new Copenhagen power plant will be 20% more effective than its predecessor.
Maybe we could learn something from this? Given today’s news that nearly half of Britain’s wind turbine projects are crushed by local protests, perhaps a more aesthetic approach from planning stage would help to give low-carbon developments a better chances of public buy-in.
We’ve already covered the ugly/ beautiful debate, and indeed NIMBYism, in terms of pylon design and renewables, and we know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But there’s probably no debate that the average waste plant is no looker.
The Danish waste plant is not the only building simultaneously claiming green credentials and Winter Olympics credentials. Looking like some kind of space station, architect Michael Jantzen’s Aspen eco-hotel hopes to meet most of its on-site energy needs with active solar and wind generation, and passive solar and geothermal heating. And – of course – a 400-foot built ski slope built into the side…
For most of its users, of course, no matter how green it is, they’ve had to rack up the air miles to take advantage of it. Copenhagen’s incinerator-ski-resort has the advantage here, in that you could go for a ski, and then pick your shopping up on the way home for tea.
So, the question of whether we’re slaloming towards a snowy sustainable solution is definitely still open; but if the complementary aesthetic development of large-scale green technologies leads to innovative ideas that add real value to people’s lives – so long as style doesn’t triumph over the necessary substance of cutting emissions – we’ll be happy. Now, where did we put our bobble hats…?