Ruka hiihtokeskus vastuullisuus

Responsibility at Ruka Ski Resort

Skiing and the joy that only snow can bring belong to future generations too. 

The responsibility program of Ruka Ski Resort

The Ruka Ski Resort environmental programme was launched in 2008. In 2019, we upgraded the environmental programme to a responsibility programme that, in addition to environmental matters, includes social and economic aspects as well. 

One of Ruka’s most important objectives of ensuring corporate responsibility is to make sure that future generations can also enjoy skiing and all the pleasures of snow. In 2018, Ruka Ski Resort was the second resort in Finland to become carbon neutral in terms of energy consumption after our sister resort on the Pyhä fell. All of our Ski-Inn accommodation options have been carbon neutral since 2008. We want to set an example and to be a pioneer of sustainable tourism. Ruka Ski Resort has held a key economic and social role in the development of tourism in the Ruka-Kuusamo region for decades and we provide many jobs and generate significant tax revenue in Kuusamo. We are also actively engaged in nationwide tourism organisations. Our intent to keep the domestic market as our most important market area is a key part of Ruka’s responsibility and efforts to promote domestic tourism.

We want to set an example of sustainable tourism for other companies in the tourism industry, both on a regional and national level. We also bear in mind that we are not perfect or complete, which is why we strive for constant improvement.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

In terms of energy use, we have been a carbon-neutral ski resort since 2018. For the time being, we compensate the share caused by the use of fossil fuels.

 

We offer the opportunity for a car-free skiing holiday in Ski-Inn accommodation next to the ski slopes and services.

 

We are committed to the EU's energy efficiency agreement, and improving energy efficiency is a continuous effort for us.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

We actively develop regional vitality by employing, investing and paying taxes locally.

 

We support and inspire young people to engage in snow sports and exercise.

ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITY

We are a Finnish family business and direct 75% of the company's profit to operational development.

 

We are not looking for quick profits – for us, a quarter is 25 years.

 

We invest in adapting to climate change so that future generations also have the chance to enjoy snow.

TIMELINE OF OUR RESPONSIBILITY ACTIONS

2000: Ruka MASTER PLAN IS CREATED – ENABLING A CAR-FREE SKIING HOLIDAY

We want to offer the opportunity for a car-free skiing holiday at Ski-Inn accommodation. 

The Master Plan of the Ruka Ski Resort was created in 2000 and was designed in cooperation with the Canadian Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners. The core of the plan is a creation of cozy walking village, good accessibility of the slopes and services without a car, as well as the so-called "hot ski-in/ski-out beds", which help to get the highest possible utilization of accommodation services instead of privately owned holiday accommodations being empty for most of the year. This reduces the ecological impact of construction and the energy consumption caused by holiday homes.

2008: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM, SKI-INN APARTMENTS BECOME CARBON NEUTRAL, COMMITMENT TO THE EU ENERGY EFFICIENCY AGREEMENT

Our environmental program was introduced together with our sister ski resort Pyhä in 2008.

In 2008, we switched to the use of electricity and district heat produced from renewable natural resources and thus reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 80%. Our Ski-Inn apartments became carbon neutral in terms of energy use.

Ruka joined the first phase of the EU energy efficiency agreement in 2008 and continued in 2017 with a new agreement that ends in 2025. The goal of the EU energy efficiency agreement is to improve energy efficiency by 7.5%.

2016: Innovating snow preservation

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 >

2018: RUKA SKI RESORT BECOMES CARBON NEUTRAL IN TERMS OF ENERGY USE

Ruka Ski Resort has been operating with renewable energy since 2008.
Thus, there are no greenhouse gas emissions from running the ski lifts, making snow, illuminating the slopes and heating the properties. In 2018, Ruka became carbon-neutral ski resort in terms of energy use, when we started compensating the emissions caused by the use of fossil energy (i.e. the fuel for the slope maintenance machines and the CO2 emissions caused by the staff's work trips, such as air travel).

We offset CO2 emissions annually using the Nordic Offset service. By purchasing emission reductions through the service in question, the amount corresponding to the carbon footprint of the fuels is transferred to WWF-supported Gold Standard-certified renewable energy projects. The compensations made by Rukakeskus Oy can be found in the Gold Standard register.

2018: Village-2-Valley gondola starts operating

In accordance with the Ruka Master Plan, we have long-term development plans for ski resort where vacationing is easy without a car. At the core of the plan are the Ski-Inn apartments, from which you can reach the nearest ski lift with a few steps. The dependency of car has also been reduced with the Village-2-Valley gondola connection between the Ruka Village and Ruka Valley.

The gondola connection connecting the west and east sides of Ruka enables pedestrians, skiers and cyclists to move from, for example, the village of Ruka to the Rosa & Rudolf Family Park in the Ruka valley in a carbon-neutral manner. In the past, a similar trip has been made with your own car or SkiBus.

2019:THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM EXPANDS INTO A RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAM

In 2019, our environmental program was updated to a responsibility program that also includes social and economic responsibility. With the responsibility program, we offered a free season ticket for the first time during the 2019-2020 season to 10-year-olds living in Kuusamo. We continue this tradition every year.

2019: IMPROVING WASTE MANAGEMENT & RECYCLING OPTIONS

We want to improve recycling and waste management, because when properly sorted, waste turns from garbage into raw material or an energy source. In 2019, we improved the waste sorting capabilities of Ski-Inn accommodation and other properties. We now have the collection of bio-waste, glass, metal, cardboard, paper and combustible waste.

You can read Ruka Ski-Inn's accommodation waste sorting instructions here.

2020: SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL FINLAND LABEL TO RUKA

Ruka Ski Resort together with Pyhä Ski Resort are the first ski resorts in Finland that were granted with Sustainable Travel Finland -label in July 2020. Sustainable Travel Finland -programme is designed for tourism companies and destinations in Finland.  The idea of Sustainable Travel Finland programme is to provide companies and destinations with a sustainable development path; a concrete toolkit for sustainable tourism that makes it easier to adopt sustainable practices and choices in the everyday business. The label is only awarded for those companies and destinations that have undergone the entire Sustainable Travel Finland programme and fulfilled the criteria.

Sustainable Travel Finland

2021: BIODIESEL FOR USE - REDUCES EMISSIONS FROM SLOPE MACHINES BY UP TO 90%

In 2021, we introduced Neste MY Renewable Fuel™, made 100% from waste and residues.

Renewable fuel oil has a significant climate impact, as replacing fossil fuel oil with it reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of the Pyhä and Ruka slope machines by up to 90 percent compared to the use of fossil fuel oil. This means that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by more than 600 tons per year, which is equivalent to removing 230 passenger cars from Finnish road traffic for one year (The calculation method for life cycle emissions and emission reduction is in accordance with the EU renewable energy directive (2018/2001/EU)). In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, switching to renewable fuel oil reduces local emissions, because Neste MY Renewable Fuel Oil burns cleaner than fossil fuels.

Carbon neutral ski resort since 2018

Ruka is a carbon neutral ski resort in terms of energy consumption. We began using renewable resources of energy in 2008. Nearly all our properties are heated with geothermal energy and district heating systems based on bio-heating solutions. Buildings equipped with an electric heating system use renewable energy resources and solutions that improve energy efficiency, such as air source heat pumps and the Optiwatt system. Our slope machinery uses Neste MY Non Road Diesel™ which is made from 100% waste and residues.  We offset all emissions caused by work-related travel, such as flights, on an annual basis in accordance with the recommendations of the WWF Gold Standard certification. 

Social responsibility

Social responsibility at Ruka Ski Resort is based on compliance with the applicable laws and regulations. The owners of the Ruka Ski Resort (Aho family) are committed to retaining the company under Finnish ownership and paying their taxes in Finland. In 2018, the Ruka Ski Resort paid the second-largest amount of taxes in Kuusamo.

A key aspect in our social responsibility is to provide children and young people with the opportunity to practice skiing. We will give out free season passes to the children of Kuusamo aged 10 from the 2019–2020 season onwards. Young people of different ages will be provided with a discount on the season passes. We also support local athletes to achieve their goals. 
We want to be a fair and reliable partner and to promote honest cooperation in the Ruka tourism region and Kuusamo through our operations.
 
Supporting the local community through using locally provided and produces services and goods and hiring local people are important values to us. Developing year-round business opportunities and providing jobs throughout the year also help us achieve our social responsibility goals. We are not afraid to take a stand and defend our values. We have voiced our opposition towards mining activities in the key tourism regions of Ruka and in particularly sensitive natural areas of the Arctic, such as the Juomasuo region in Kuusamo and in the vicinity of tourist centres. We see this as not only a matter of environmental responsibility, but also as an important aspect of social responsibility, as tourism creates a larger number of more stable jobs than mining operations. We welcome all renewable energy production projects that have a larger positive impact on the environment and local economics than their negative impact on the landscape is (for example, wind power farms).
 
For us, social responsibility also means transparency in decision-making processes and reports and accepting and treating people equally. We do not accept any forms of racism and we support unconditional non-discrimination and gender equality.

Economic responsibility

The economic responsibility efforts of Ruka Ski Resort are primarily based on profitable business that allows for paying the personnel’s salary, making investments, improving competitiveness, increasing the number of year-round jobs and paying dividends to the shareholders. By ensuring the profitability of our business, we are able to accomplish and comply with our environmental and social goals and obligations. On the other hand, sustainable development and anticipating and preparing for climate change are required in order to maintain financially sustainable business operations.

Securing the adequate amount of snow and the operability of ski lifts in strong winds are key objectives in terms of ensuring the profitability of our business. Efforts to increase the amount of snow available at Ruka have been made for several decades. One of the most significant efforts has been the development of utilising stored snow. Stored snow allows Ruka to provide its customers with the longest skiing season in Finland, totalling more than 200 days every winter. In order to ensure the operability of ski lifts, we have equipped the Express lifts of Vuosseli with additional weights and acquired separate storm seats in the Village Express lift that allow for keeping the lift operable even in exceptionally strong winds. The upper terminals of the ski lifts are also designed in a way that protects the lifts from the effects of wind as efficiently as possible.
 
The Ruka Ski Resort is a second-generation family company owned by the Aho family, and the owners are looking to retain the companies’ status as a Finnish family companies and to transfer their ownership to the third generation in due course. The goal is to increase the value of the companies over a long period of time and various cyclical fluctuations in accordance with the following economic goals, for example:
-Operating profit of more than 10%
-Equity ratio of more than 50%
-75% of income is invested in the development of companies
 
Rukakeskus Oy was awarded a national entrepreneurship award in 2019. 

Ski-Inn accommodation is a green choice

Ski-Inn accommodation is the most environmentally friendly mode of ski resort accommodation in Finland, as they have been carbon neutral since 2008. Sites equipped with an electric heating system use renewable energy resources and solutions that improve energy efficiency, such as air source heat pumps and the Optiwatt system. Wind power and hydropower are used as resources of renewable energy to produce the electricity consumed at Ruka, and our heating system is based on the use of woodchips. In addition, the apartments are within walking distance from the lifts, which makes it unnecessary to use a car.

The Ski-Inn apartment ownership model is based on renting the holiday apartments owned by private persons throughout the year, making it an ecologically responsible alternative by eliminating the need to construct additional apartments for renting operations.

All Ski-Inn apartments are equipped with waste sorting bins and instructions. Customers staying in Ruka’s Ski-Inn apartments can recycle biowaste, plastic, glass, cardboard, paper and small metal items. The recycling stations are located in the waste rooms of each accommodation site. Waste sorting instructions in Ski-Inn accommodation >

Rukan hiihtokeskus

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.

 

Automated snowmaking

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

The snowmobiles used in slope operations have been changed from 2-stroke to 4-stroke, which has caused their fuel consumption to drop by about half. Significant savings have also been achieved in slope maintenance's fuel consumption with the staff incentive program, and in addition, other technology is in use that optimizes the working conditions of slope machines. For example, the SNOWSAT system of the PistenBully snowcats, which allows the driver to see the thickness of the snow cover down to the centimeter in real time, facilitates the spreading and leveling of snow in the slope machine, but also the planning of the work, when the same data is also used by the work management of Vuossel's maintenance hall.

In November 2021, we introduced the Neste MY Renewable Fuel Oil™ product, which is made 100% from waste and residues. Renewable fuel oil has a significant climate impact, as the switch to its use reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of Ruka and Pyhä slope machines by up to 90 percent compared to the use of fossil fuel oil.

SLOPE LIGHTING

The slope illumination system, active in the polar night and dark evenings, is automated in order to optimise its energy efficiency, and the technology behind the system is replaced with new solutions whenever the equipment reaches the end of its service life. New lighting fixtures can be seen in the Saarua slopes and the Front slopes. We are also constantly monitoring the latest innovations in illumination technology in order to ensure that we have the best lighting fixtures suitable for arctic conditions.

Village-2-Valley gondoli

The Village-2-Valley Scenic Gondola, completed in early winter of 2018, is also an environmental accomplishment. Pedestrians, skiers and bicyclists can travel between the eastern and western sides of Ruka with the gondola and enjoy a carbon neutral journey from the Ruka village to the Rosa & Rudolf Family Park in Ruka Valley, for example.

Waste management

APPROPRIATE WASTE RECYCLING CAN TURN TRASH INTO AN INGREDIENT OR ENERGY SOURCE

All Ski-Inn apartments are equipped with waste sorting bins and instructions. Customers staying in Ruka’s Ski-Inn apartments can recycle biowaste, plastic, glass, cardboard, paper and small metal items. The recycling stations are located in the waste rooms of each accommodation site. Waste sorting instructions in Ski-Inn accommodation >

The recycling station of the Ruka tourist region is located on the parking lot of the Sale grocery store on Rukanriutta. The station has separate recycling bins for glass, small metal items, cardboard, carton and paper. NOTE! Biowaste and plastic waste can currently be recycled at Ruka only in locations where companies have made such recycling arrangements with Kuusamon Jätehuolto, including Ruka’s Ski-Inn apartments, for example. 

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

Ruka’s new water treatment plant began its operations in 2016, and the strictest permit conditions in Finland are applied in the plant. The treatment process selected according to these conditions is ideal in Ruka, where the volume of sewage varies significantly and the temperature of sewage in the treatment plant is low. Explore Ruka wastewater treatment plant >

 

The energy use of a ski resort is relative

Total consumption

Use of Ruka ski slopes and elevators = 6000 megawatt hours (MWh)

Ski day

The energy consumption of Ruka in a single operating day per one customer is equivalent to heating a sauna for approximately two hours.

Winter season

The energy consumption of one winter season at Ruka slopes is equivalent to about 300 households (120m2) of four person family households.

Protect Our Winters Finland

We are one of the main partners of Protect Our Winters Finland. Protect Our Winters Finland is part of the international POW movement, which brings together winter sports lovers and companies working with winter sports to fight climate change. We support the organization's activities and cooperate to communicate to our customers the importance of more environmentally friendly choices in curbing climate change.

Protect Our Winters Finland Ruka