Environmental Program of Ruka since 2008
Welcome to explore the environmental program of Ruka Ski Resort and how we are working towards a carbon neutral future. The environment program was launched in 2008, and after that the greenhouse gas emissions of the ski resort have decreased by 80 per cent. Ruka will shift to a carbon neutral ski resort in 2018 as a second in Finland after our fellow mountain Pyhä Ski Resort.
Ruka's environmental program is based on responsible development according to a comprehensive tourist area plan called Ruka Master Plan and the consideration of the environment in all activities. Ruka Master Plan, launched in 2005, has already proceeded to the third stage, of which the most recent is the Ruka valley project. The main principle of planning is observation of the environment and sustainable development, balanced dimensioning of services, car-free vacations and the Ski-Inn model.
See also tips: Sustainable tourism in Ruka and Kuusamo
Ruka's energy efficiency
Did you know what can be measured in a ski resort?
Here at Ruka, we are well aware of energy consumption. Thanks to our high-quality measuring equipment, electricity, water and heat consumption of buildings and slopes can be accurately monitored 24 hours a day. A precise measurement system helps us achieve our energy saving goals. Our goal is to achieve a 7.5% energy savings between 2017-2025 under the energy efficiency agreement of the European Union.
Carbon neutral ski resort since 2018
Computationally, Ruka is a carbon neutral ski resort. The use of emission-free hydroelectric power has already been introduced in 2009, and we also use wind power to support hydropower. Most of the buildings at Ruka ski resort are heated by biomass heat from wood chips and rest of the buildings are mainly heated with geothermal heat. We compensate for CO₂ emissions caused by the use of machinery and equipment in accordance with the Gold Standard certificate recommended by WWF.
The energy use of a ski resort is relative
Use of Ruka ski slopes and elevators = 6000 megawatt hours (MWh)
In Ruka, one customer's ski day energy consumption corresponds to about 2 hours of sauna.
The energy consumption of one winter season at Ruka slopes is equivalent to about 300 households (120m2) of four person family households.
Examples of Ruka's measures
Snow preservation and snowmaking
Ruka was experimenting a new method of snow preservation over summer for the first time in summer 2016, and as the technology turned out to be functional and developable, the preservation of snow has become an essential part of Ruka's snow certainty. The energy saving of snow preservation is based on the use of snow made in January under optimum conditions, which reduces the need for snowmaking during warm and humid conditions of early season. Learn more about snow preservation and Ruka’s snow certainty >
The automated snowmaking system is already existing in the slopes Vuosseli 24, Superpipe, Eturinteet, FIS slope and Saarua slopes 12, 13 and 16. Automated snow guns for example react to weather conditions to optimize energy efficiency and water use of snow production.
Machinery and equipment
Snow mobiles used by slope maintenance have been changed from 2-stroke to 4-stroke, which has reduced their fuel consumption by about half. The fuel consumption of staff at slope maintenance has also brought about significant savings through the staff incentive program. Also other technologies that optimize the work of ski machines have been used. For example, the PistenBully snowcat SNOWSAT system, which enables the driver to see snow thickness in real time, facilitates the spreading and smoothing of snow in the snowcat but also the design of the work while the same data is in use with the Vuosseli maintenance hall's management.
During ”kaamos”, the dark time of the year, and for night riding the lighting of slopes is automated to be as energy efficient as possible, and the technology of slope lights is updated when the life of current equipment is ending. New types of lights can be seen in the Saarua and Eturinteet. In addition, we are researching the continuously evolving lighting technology to find the best possible lights for Arctic conditions.
Village-2-Valley Scenic Gondola
The Village-2-Valley Scenic Gondola, which is due to be completed to Ruka in early winter 2018, is also an environmental act. The gondola connecting East Ruka and West Ruka allows pedestrians, riders and cyclists to move carbon neutrally for example from Ruka Village to Ruka Valley’s Rosa & Rudolf Family Park. In the past, the same distance has been traveled by own car or SkiBus, of which shifts can be decreased as the gondola is finished, especially when international vacationers begin to use energy-efficient gondolas to move families and beginners into easy slope areas. The gondola will be open during the winter season until 11 PM meaning less burdensome for private cars and taxis when customers from East Ruka can enjoy the services of West Ruka afoot. Those arriving by car to Ruka can also park in the Ruka parking garage and go to East Ruka via gondola. Car storage in a semi-heated parking garage reduces fuel emissions due to cold starting.
Ski-Inn apartment is a green option
Ski-Inn hotels and apartments are the most environmentally friendly ski resort accommodation in Finland, because their carbon footprint is zero. The electricity we use is produced by water and wind power and the apartments are heated with wood chips. In addition, the location of the apartments within walking distance of the lifts reduces the need for driving a car.
All Ski-Inn apartments have waste sorting bins and instructions. Recycling points are located in the immediate vicinity of the apartments. In Ruka's apartments can recycle glass, small metal, cardboard and paper.
The ownership model of the Ski-Inn apartments, where privately-owned holiday apartments are rented all year round, is an ecologically responsible choice as it reduces the need for construction by combining ownership and rental properties.
Properly recycled waste turns from garbage into raw material or energy source.
Ruka's recycling point is located at Rukanriutta near S-market grocery store. The recycling point has sorting tanks for glass, small metal, cardboard and paper. About waste disposal and recycling instructions >
Burning waste for energy
Instead of mixed waste, combustible waste is collected at Ruka. The waste is transported to Oulu in an eco power plant where the energy from combustion is utilized in the production of electricity and district heating. Waste incineration reduces load at landfills, and the energy contained in the waste can also be recycled. With combustible waste you can sort almost everything belonging to mixed waste, such as plastic packaging and dirty carton packaging. Ruka also sorts the bio-waste by combustion. However, metal or glass may not be used for combustion.
Ruka's new wastewater treatment plant has been introduced in 2016. It is well-known that the strictest licensing conditions in Finland have been set for the treatment plant according to which the selected purification process is particularly suited to Ruka, where wastewater flow rate variation is high and effluent temperatures are low. Explore Ruka wastewater treatment plant >
Protect Our Winters Finland
Climate change poses a huge threat to the future of winter hobbies. The winters are getting shorter and snow falls are reducing. Protect Our Winters Finland is part of the international POW movement that brings together winter sports enthusiasts and winter sports companies to work against climate change. In practice, POW's activities include information on climate change and its impact on winter sports, organizing campaigns and events and influencing politicians and companies in the field.
Ruka is one of the main partners of POW Finland.
The work continues
Action against climate change and to maintain biodiversity and clean Kuusamo Tourism Area continues. Ruka has defined future challenges for the ski resort, including the difficulty of forecasting seasons and weather, the severe weather phenomena and the future of winter culture and attraction.
As the possibilities in the coming years, we will see, among other things, the widespread development of energy efficiency, biofuels, commitment and encouragement of staff and the year-round tourism.
How would you develop Ruka's environmental program, send us your idea >