By: Geraldine Link

As one of Brendle Group’s longest standing clients, it is my pleasure to take this opportunity to congratulate Judy Dorsey, Dan Epstein, and Team Brendle on their 20th anniversary. Brendle Group is the leading sustainability shop in Colorado, and I feel so fortunate to have crossed paths with Judy Dorsey 18 years ago. Our partnership has brought amazing results to ski area sustainability. The ski industry will be relying on Brendle Group’s expertise and vision as we look ahead to the next 20 years and the tremendous challenges we will face in the future.

My work with Judy Dorsey began in 1999 on a pollution prevention pilot program for ski areas funded by the EPA. We got to know each other both personally and professionally through that initial project, and it was apparent to me right out of the gates that Judy and I would be collaborating on ski area sustainability work for many years.  Judy was so bright, thorough, and passionate about raising the bar on resort environmental performance. As NSAA’s Public Policy Director, I knew I would need assistance launching the comprehensive ski industry environmental framework that is now commonly known as Sustainable Slopes.

Since our paths crossed in the late nineties, Judy and her top-notch Brendle Group team has assisted NSAA with almost every environmental initiative that we have undertaken. We adopted a ski industry climate change policy back in 2002 that was very cutting edge and has withstood the test of time. With Brendle Group’s assistance, we have worked to implement that policy over the past 15 years, making the ski industry a leader on this important topic. Brendle Group has been instrumental in helping NSAA measure results, and get results, over the past decade and a half. Together we developed and implemented the Sustainable Slopes Assessment Tool, which collected environmental data early on that helped shape and focus our future programs.  We rolled out the Green Power initiative to increase demand for renewable power, educated resorts on annual sustainability reporting, and produced the Small Resort’s Guide to Energy to encourage resorts with fewer resources to pursue the low hanging fruit.  Based on these early successes, we took things up a notch with the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program, which has awarded almost $500,000 in cash and in-kind sustainability grants to resorts, and the Climate Challenge, which now has 34 resorts on board with inventorying and reducing their carbon footprints and making huge strides on climate change advocacy. More recently Brendle Group took on the innovative Economics of Sustainability Study with RRC and Associates, which connects the dots for resorts on how being sustainable can be  very positive for  their bottom lines.

In addition to all of these initiatives, Judy Dorsey and Brendle Group have contributed countless pro-bono hours toward ski industry sustainability. Judy is a judge for the Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence and has been a frequent speaker at NSAA educational sessions on sustainability. Brendle Group has written many informative articles for the NSAA Journal over the years. Brendle Group has also donated 5 years’ worth of in-kind consulting services grants, including an Energy Audit Grant, a Sustainability ROI Grant, a Climate Adaptation Grant and a Staffing for Sustainability Grant – constantly evolving the focus to capture new trends and meet the industry’s needs at the time.

The ski industry has benefitted tremendously from Judy and Team Brendle’s work on resort sustainability. In recognition of these longstanding and significant contributions, NSAA awarded Judy in 2016 with the Industry Impact Award.  Judy is the first woman to receive an Industry Impact Award from NSAA. One of the fondest moments of my career was honoring Judy with this award at NSAA’s National Convention last year. With her family at her side, Judy was surprised with a video of then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulating her on the Impact Award and all of the ski industry action on climate change that she has inspired over the years.  I was able to express to her, in front of the entire ski industry, that her sustainability expertise and passion for the mountain environment have combined to produce a more informed industry, a more informed public, transparency, accountability, countless energy savings, water savings, cost savings, a smaller carbon footprint, and climate adaptation efforts.  Most of all, Judy has inspired change.

I have watched Brendle Group grow from a two-person engineering shop to an award-winning and highly respected consulting group not just within Colorado, but nationally. I am optimistic about the future with Brendle Group at my side!

About the Author – Geraldine Link serves as Director of Public Policy for the National Ski Areas Association. The National Ski Areas Association is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. It represents 326 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboarder visits nationwide.