RESPONSIBILITY AT RUKA SKI RESORT

This page includes more details about the responsibility programme 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.

 

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

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. All CO₂ emissions caused by the use of machinery and equipment are offset in accordance with the recommendations of the WWF Gold Standard certification. We use offsetting as a temporary solution until we are able to determine an emission-free alternative for fossil fuels that can be used in the cold conditions of the north. In addition, we offset all emissions caused by work-related travel, such as flights, on an annual basis.

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. 

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.

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.

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 Scenic Gondola

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. Previously, this journey had to be made by car or with the SkiBus. The SkiBus runs less frequently as international holidaymakers, in particular, seem to prefer using the energy efficient gondola to travel to the slopes designed for families and beginners. The gondola also reduces the need for cars and taxis by allowing people to access the services of Western Ruka from Eastern Ruka by foot. People who need to access Ruka by car can park their cars in the Ruka parking garage and use the gondola to access the services of Eastern Ruka. Parking your car in a semi-heated parking garage reduces the emissions caused by a cold start.

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.

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. 

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.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Appropriate waste recycling can turn trash into an ingredient or energy source

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. General waste sorting instructions >

Burning waste to create energy

Instead of mixed waste, Ruka’s waste recycling stations are equipped with combustible waste containers. Combustible waste is transported to an eco power plant in Oulu, where the energy created by burning the waste is used to generate power and for district heating purposes. Burning waste decreases the environmental impact of landfills and allows for utilising the energy of the waste. Almost all types of mixed waste can be disposed of as disposable waste, such as plastic packaging and dirty cardboard packaging items. Biowaste is also disposed of as combustible waste at Ruka. Metal or glass items should not be disposed of as combustible waste, however. Learn more >

Water treatment plant

Ruka’s new water treatment plan 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 >

Sustainable Travel Finland

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

Protect Our Winters Finland

Climate change is a significant threat to the future of winter sports. Winters become shorter and the amount of snow is reduced. Protect Our Winters Finland is a part of the international POW movement that brings together winter sport enthusiasts and companies involved with winter sports to combat climate change. In practice, POW’s operations include raising awareness of climate change and its impact on winter sports, arranging campaigns and events and lobbying key decision-makers and companies in the industry.

Ruka is one of the main partners of POW Finland.

PARTICIPATE AND GIVE FEEDBACK

Do you have any suggestions regarding the responsibility efforts of Ruka Ski Resort? We are glad to hear how you think we could develop the responsibility and environmental friendliness of Ruka Ski Resort. Send us your ideas! send us your idea >

See also tips: Sustainable tourism in Ruka and Kuusamo

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