SHIFT Announces Sustainability Award Winners

Laurels-lisa2After evaluating more than 600 conservation and sustainability initiatives, we are pleased to announce the winners of our first SHIFT Sustainability Awards. The Awards recognize the most effective, innovative conservation and sustainability initiatives currently underway in communities like Jackson Hole around North America.

SHIFT is an annual festival that celebrates the future of conservation. An integral part of the Festival is the SHIFT Summit, which showcases leading sustainability and conservation initiatives from communities whose economic and cultural vitality relies on the health of their environment.

SHIFT refers to such communities as GEMS: Gateways to Environments of Major Significance. SHIFT’s goal is to work with GEMS to create networks and disseminate best practices that sustain these communities—and, by extension, to influence the behavior of the tens of millions of people who visit them every year.

The SHIFT Sustainability Awards are one of the last steps on the road to the SHIFT Summit. We’re inviting the winners to the Summit, which runs from October 8-10 in Jackson Hole.

The winners were selected from hundreds of initiatives under consideration. They were first identified by SHIFT researchers based on their ability to produce a measurable, meaningful contribution in one of the following areas:

  • Increased efficiency (i.e., produce at least the same amount and quality of a product – whether a good or service – using fewer resources).
  • Decreased toxicity (i.e., produce at least the same quantity and quality of a product in a way that is less harmful to the environment).
  • Reduced consumption (i.e., lead to people using fewer resources and products without experiencing a significant diminution in quality of life).
  • Increased transparency (i.e., help consumers better understand the products they use).
  • Healthier ecosystems (i.e., act in a way that enhances the likelihood of one or more specific natural systems continuing to exist and function properly).
  • Healthier communities (i.e., without compromising environmental health, act in a way that results in healthier lives, greater happiness, better education, increased acceptance of diversity, and/or greater economic opportunity and security).

The initiatives that met the above criteria were then sent to participating Jackson Hole stakeholders for further evaluation.

These “SHIFT Partners” rated initiatives pertinent to their field of expertise for significance, innovation, ability to be replicated in other GEMS, and, to a lesser extent, their relevance to Jackson Hole.

A final gathering of SHIFT Partners selected the top 50 initiatives in the country to honor with the SHIFT Sustainability Awards.

Recipients of the awards range from an energy efficient affordable housing initiative in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to a ski area powered by clean coal in Aspen, Colorado, to a community based food nonprofit in La Paz, Mexico.

The SHIFT Summit will be held at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole October 8-10, 2014. Each day of the Summit will focus on one of three categories: Nature, Culture and Adventure.

During the day, representatives from selected initiatives will participate in dynamic public programs that explore the ways they are addressing conservation and sustainability issues in their communities.

While the public programs are being held in the Auditorium, smaller break-out sessions in satellite rooms will focus on policy.

“The SHIFT Sustainability Awards honor the work being done in GEMS around North America,” said SHIFT Director Christian Beckwith. “We were extremely impressed by the effectiveness and innovation of these local efforts. They deserve to be commended for their accomplishments, and we’re looking forward to sharing their work with a wider audience.”

Beckwith also noted the contributions of the SHIFT Partners, who invested hundreds of hours of time in their evaluations.

“Our community’s engagement in this process speaks volumes about their commitment to our valley,” he said. “We can’t wait to bring together similarly passionate, brilliant and innovative leaders in October and develop ways to amplify all of our work, and its affect on our visitors.”

A list of participating SHIFT Partners may be found here.

Winning initiatives may be found below.


BC Passive House, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The BC Passive House is Canada’s first manufacturing plant prefabricating a panelized system that meets the rigorous Passive House Standard. The Passive House (PH) Standard is a European concept and international performance based building standard that defines the total annual amount of energy that can be used for heating and cooling of a structure and for primary energy usage. Passive House construction is next generation, state of the art construction, producing homes that are smart, healthy, efficient, comfortable and enjoyable to live in. From low income housing to luxury homes, schools, hospitals and office buildings, Passive House construction improves the interior living environment while dramatically reducing the energy requirements.

Bluewater Grill, Avalon (Catalina Island), CA. The Bluewater’s co-founder Jimmy Ulcickas, who also helped Bluewater Grills in Newport Beach, Redondo Beach, Tustin and Phoenix, has made a reputation for himself and the restaurants for spearheading the movement toward serving sustainable seafood, prepared to the highest standards of the restaurant industry.

Bow Valley Waste Management Commission, Banff, Alberta, Canada. The recycling achievements in our resource recovery centre is among the leaders in Alberta and have been the focus of a number of conference agendas. Since 2008 BVWaste and our special event partners have applied TZW practices and tracked results for over 50 events and set out recycling equipment at many more. Bow Valley special events have sent almost 30 tonnes of recyclables to a better place for a 6 year average diversion from landfill of 80%.

City of Aspen’s Canary Initiative, Aspen, CO. The Canary Initiative is Aspen’s greenhouse gas reduction program working to fight climate change and protect powder days.

City of Aspen’s Pay As You Throw Program and Disposable Plastic Bag Prohibition, Aspen, CO. The Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program for residential trash customers treats trash services just like electricity, gas, and other utilities. Households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of service they use. The less trash individuals throw away, the less they pay. Aspen’s Disposable Plastic Bag Prohibition mandates that no grocer shall provide a Disposable Plastic Bag to a customer at the point of sale.

City of Aspen’s Roaring Forks Transportation Authority, Aspen, CO. RFTA is at the forefront of public transportation, incorporating hybrid busses and biofuels into their fleet. They have received multiple awards and accolades throughout their existence, including the White House Champions of Change Transportation Innovator.

Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, Basalt, CO. For more than a quarter century, the Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute has played a leading role in permaculture consultation and design, certification courses, and workshops. We are one of the oldest continually operating permaculture facilities in the United States – and we’re continuing to break new ground, now offering our pioneering immersion training, the Permaculture Academy.

Clean Energy Collective, Aspen, CO. Clean Energy Collective (CEC) develops community-owned renewable energy solutions for electric utilities and their customers, including the country’s first community-owned solar arrays.

Community Solar, Park City, UT. SCS is managed by Utah Clean Energy, a Utah non-profit organization, working with Summit County, Park City, and a volunteer Steering Committee to overcome the logistical and financial hurdles of going solar.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Aspen, CO. CORE works cooperatively with businesses, individuals, utilities and government entities to create measurable improvements in energy and water efficiency in order to benefit the environment and develop a more sustainable economy.

Island Explorer Bus System, Bar Harbor, ME. The Island Explorer Bus System features eight bus routes linking hotels, inns, and campgrounds with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring village centers. Clean propane-powered vehicles offer Mount Desert Island visitors and residents free transportation to hiking trails, carriage roads, island beaches, and in-town shops and restaurants.

Island Grown Initiative, Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Empowering a new generation of students on Martha’s Vineyard to make healthy eating choices, learn to grow food, and connect to local farms and our agricultural heritage.

Island Housing Trust of Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The IHT is a community based non-profit organization whose mission is the development and permanent stewardship of land for affordable housing through long-term ground leasing.

Hunger Coalition, Sun Valley, ID. The Hunger Coalition strives to end hunger in our community by providing wholesome food to those in need and by promoting solutions to the underlying causes of hunger through collaboration, education and advocacy.

Lake County Community Development Corporation, Ronan, MT. Lake County Community Development cultivates economic growth in Western Montana by offering unique resources to develop communities, businesses and food and agriculture enterprises. We serve entrepreneurs, cooperatives and local governments.

Sustainability Screening Report (SSR). This new process asks developers to come forward before a project is approved with a document that explains the net environmental, social, and economic benefit of their project as it relates to community sustainability. Since implementing the SSR process, the development industry has contributed over $1 million to the Town’s Perpetually Affordable Housing fund, a formal “adoption” of the Canmore Community Daycare for 2 years, $350,000 funding support for the Canmore Community Coop Workshop and Gallery and a potential 8.5 million dollars in local wages. – See more at:
Sustainability Screening Report (SSR). This new process asks developers to come forward before a project is approved with a document that explains the net environmental, social, and economic benefit of their project as it relates to community sustainability. Since implementing the SSR process, the development industry has contributed over $1 million to the Town’s Perpetually Affordable Housing fund, a formal “adoption” of the Canmore Community Daycare for 2 years, $350,000 funding support for the Canmore Community Coop Workshop and Gallery and a potential 8.5 million dollars in local wages. – See more at:

Town of Banff’s Living Green Program, Banff, Alberta, Canada. The Town of Banff strives to be a model community in low-impact living.  Among other things, its Living Green Program recycles or diverts 60% of waste from the landfill, and was responsible for the installation of a source separated organics/biosolids diversion process.

Town of Breckenridge’s SustainableBreck Business Program, Breckenridge, CO. This program provides free energy and environmental assessments as well as personal assistance to businesses to help businesses save operating costs (on energy, waste, supplies, water, and transportation costs) while reducing the business’s carbon footprint.

Town of Canmore’s Sustainability Screening Report, Alberta, Canada. Canmore’s Sustainability Screening Report (SSR) asks developers to come forward before a project is approved with a document that explains the net environmental, social, and economic benefit of their project as it relates to community sustainability.

Town of Vail’s Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan, Vail, CO. The Vail Environmental Strategic Plan was adopted to maintain and improve environmental quality in the Vail valley and to ensure the prolonged economic health of the region.

Raiz del Fundo, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The mission of  Raiz del Fondo is to create a network of gardens in BCS that provide inspiration and educational opportunities in organic gardening, healthy food preparation and consumption, and water conservation while reclaiming under-utilized spaces and strengthening community connections.

South Mountain Company, Martha’s Vineyard, MA. South Mountain Company is a multi-faceted employee-owned company that helps to solve the affordable housing crisis and spread the use of renewable energy to provide optimal clean energy solutions and supporting technology that serve our communities, businesses and utilities in creating a sensible and affordable clean energy nation.

Western Sustainablity Exchange, Livingston, MT. The mission of the Western Sustainability Exchange is to advance sustainable choices that enhance economic opportunities which preserve open space, wildlife habitat, farm and ranch lands, and quality of life for future generations.

Whistler Compost Facility, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The Whistler Compost Facility recycles and disposes of waste in an environmentally responsible way.

Zion National Park Shuttle System, Springdale, UT. In 1997, visitation to Zion National Park was 2.4 million and increasing. The shuttle system was established to eliminate traffic and parking problems, protect vegetation, and restore tranquility to Zion Canyon.


Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, Canmore, Alberta, Canada. The Biosphere Institute is a non-profit charitable society dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity of the Bow Valley for the well-being of the ecosystem and those who live there, through education, research and outreach.  It promotes sustainable communities and environmental stewardship with its outreach programs engaging youth, residents and visitors, and local businesses. Its Public Resource Centre hosts wildlife and sustainable community displays, and a library focused on the ecology of the Bow Valley.

Island Institute, Rockland, ME. The Island Institute works to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities. Our core program areas—including economic development, education, community energy, marine resources, and media—are driven by the requests of community members themselves. Our core commitment to the islands of Maine includes sharing what works among these diverse communities and beyond.

Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, Frisco, CO. Friends of the Dillon Ranger District promotes stewardship of the White River National Forest in Summit County through partnerships, volunteer service, education, and support.

Flathead Basin Commission, Whitefish, MT. The Flathead Bason Commission monitors and protects water quality and the natural resources in one of the State’s most important watersheds.

Mountain Studies Institute, Silverton, CO.  The Mountain Studies Institute develops science that people can use to address environmental issues facing the San Juan Mountains.

Nantucket Land Council, Nantucket, MA. The Nantucket Land Council is a watch-dog environmental group which holds conservation restrictions, commissions scientific research, monitors development, engages in legal proceedings, and educates the public on local environmental issues.

Niparaja, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Our mission is to perpetuate the natural assets that distinguish Baja California Sur, as a result of actions by consensus and with scientific basis, for the benefit of local communities, and present and future generations.

Reef Relief, Key West, FL. Reef Relief is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystem. We focus on rigorous science to educate the public & advocate policymakers to achieve conservation, protection, and restoration of coral reefs.

Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, McCall, ID. The Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary’s mission is to rehabilitate and return injured and orphaned wildlife to the wild and to educate the public to appreciate wildlife and minimize conflicts with humans.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, South Lake Tahoe, CA. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment.

Tamarisk Coalition, Fruita, CO. Advancing the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.

Town of Estes Park’s Estes Valley Bear Education Task Force, Estes Park, CO. The mission of the Bear Education Task Force is to create a better environment for bears and other wildlife, to preserve watchable wildlife in the Estes Valley, and to promote public safety.

Uncompahgre Plateau Collaborative Restoration Project, Telluride, CO. The mission of the UP is to develop a collaborative approach to improve the ecosystem health of the landscape, using best available science, community input and adaptive management.

Upper Merced River Watershed Council, Mariposa, CA. The mission of the Upper Merced River Watershed Council is to work with individuals and organizations to protect and enhance the natural, economic, and cultural resources of the Watershed through education, community-based projects, responsible planning, and stewardship.

WildSmart, Canmore, Alberta, Canada. The WildSmart program is a proactive conservation strategy that encourages efforts by communities to reduce negative human – wildlife interactions.


The Colorado Mountain Club’s Backcountry Snowsports Initiative, Vail, CO, and Steamboat, CO. The Colorado Mountain Club’s Backcountry Snowsports Initiative seeks to defend human-powered winter recreation for skiers, snowshoers, snowboarders, and other users, while protecting the wild lands that support these activities.

Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, Crested Butte, CO. The oldest mountain bike club in the world, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association is an all volunteer, non-profit 501C3 organization dedicated to the access, building and maintenance of mountain bike trails in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley in Colorado.

Coal Methane Clean Energy Project, Aspen Skiing Company, Aspen, CO. Aspen/Snowmass made American business history by being the first company in Colorado to partner with a coal mine to create clean energy. This ground-breaking project at the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset, Colo. generates three megawatts of power annually – the same amount of energy that Aspen Skiing Company uses each year.

The Environment Foundation, Aspen, CO. The Environment Foundation, a collaboration with the Aspen Community Foundation and the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund, is a nonprofit employee organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the regional environment.

Mountain Trails Foundation, Park City, UT. Mountain Trails Foundation is dedicated to promoting and maintaining Park City Utah’s trails for non-motorized recreational use.

Powdr Corp, Park City, UT. Snow is essential to both our business model and in supporting all life in the mountains. Fighting global warming is standard operating procedure at Powdr. We create and support a variety of energy saving and carbon cutting initiatives at our resorts, and then consistently challenge and test those efforts to see if we can do better.

Public Land Solutions, Moab, UT. Public Land Solutions is dedicated to providing comprehensive recreation planning and stakeholder coordination to support effective and sustainable public land solutions.

Vail Resorts Echo, Vail, CO. Through VR Echo’s programs, Vail Resorts connects to the core issues that matter: the vitality of our communities and the conservation of the spectacular natural environments that surround them. Vail Resorts Echo is Environmental Stewardship, Charitable Contributions and Volunteerism.

Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Zero waste, zero carbon, zero net emissions – this is our goal – for Whistler Blackcomb to achieve Zero Operating Footprint. This will only be possible with the support of our employees, our guests and our community. For all of us, Every Step Counts.This collective mission inspires guests to visit us who are factoring environmental impacts into their travel choices.

Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. By working with government, landowners and developers, WORCA continues to ensure mountain bike trail access while providing a wide range of other services to the mountain bike community.

Wood River Bike Coalition, Sun Valley, ID. Promoting sustainable trails, responsible biking, and improving riding opportunities for cyclists of all ages and abilities.



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