MSIA Sustainability Certification Program Guidelines

MSIA Sustainability Certification Program

MSIA created its Sustainability Certification Program to enable our members to take the lead in ski industry sustainability efforts.  We chose to use the green circle, blue square and black diamond symbols that are already familiar to our industry, as they signify the “easiest,” “more difficult” and “most difficult” paths down a slope or trail.  MSIA’s Sustainability Certification Program is designed to be a map for its members to achieve sustainability success down the trail that is right for them.

All MSIA members – Ski Areas, Ski Retailers, Ski Industry Manufacturers Reps and Associate members – can become Sustainability Certified because it is general enough for all businesses to be able to take part.

There are four levels of certification and each can be achieved by performing at minimum the designated number of activities from each of the four categories below.

Green Circle Certification Perform at least TWO activities from each of the four categories below.

Blue Square Certification Perform at least THREE activities from each of the four categories below.

Black Diamond Certification: Perform at least FOUR activities from each of the four categories below.

Double Black Diamond Certification:  Perform ALL BUT ONE of the activities in each of the four categories below.  For this certification you must include one “other” activity in each of the four categories.


Activities are listed below.  In addition to the activities listed, a business may design and propose another activity (listed as “other” below and on the linked application). Alternative activities must be approved by the MSIA Sustainability Committee. Don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any questions.  When you’re ready, please complete this application form, which is a Microsoft Word document. Or, if you prefer, choose this application form, which is a fillable pdf.

The four categories:

1. Managing Waste

  • Implement a recycle program for at least two of the following:

A. Paper (office, newspaper, magazines, etc.)
B. Plastic
C. Printer cartridges
D. Cardboard
E. Glass

  • Implement a composting program.
  • Conduct a waste audit to see what your current consumption is and where you could reduce waste.
  • Adopt business/office policies that are waste conscious, including  adjusting printer settings to default to two-sided, offering emailed receipts instead of printed, filing documents electronically as opposed to paper files, no idle policy for employee and company vehicles, etc.
  • Convert from using disposable products to reusable, recyclable (if you recycle) or compostable items.
  • Work with local food pantry/charity for immediate use of food reaching end of life.
  • Change purchases from single-use products to bulk. Examples: large containers of shampoo and conditioner in hotel bathrooms instead of single-use products; condiments in pump bottles instead of individual packets.
  • Other – You choose and describe on application.


2.  Energy Efficiency

  • Contact your energy provider for an energy audit.
  • Using alternative energy, renewable fuels or specialized energy-efficient technology in property management. As an example, buying carbon offsets for electrical use in snowmaking and in other business operations.
  • Implement an energy-saving program that may include (but is not limited to) LED lighting, motion/occupancy sensors, programable thermostats, etc.
  • Create closing process to ensure lights and select appliances are being turned off as opposed to sleep mode.
  • Convert to High Efficiency equipment as they need replacing.
  • Work with your energy provider to create a Demand Response – or similar program, where energy is used during off-peak times (could save money as well as energy.)
  • Other – you choose and describe on application.


3.  Environmental Protection

  • Buy green, buy local to minimize food and product miles.  Commit to a program to purchase products and services from local Michigan companies.
  • Discontinue use of products that cause pollution, including polystyrene, K-cups, plastic straws, plastic bags, etc.
  • Adopt the use of alternative cleaning products that are certified biodegradable and earth friendly.
  • Create a program to properly dispose of hazardous materials (batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, oil, chemicals, installation of an oil/water separator etc.)
  • Institute a water management program which may include any or all of the following: glasses of water only upon request at restaurants, installing efficient flush toilets/urinals/shower heads/faucets, drought-tolerant plantings, annual analysis and maintenance of septic system (if you have a septic system), replace water pipes (for irrigation, snowmaking, hotel use etc.) that leak or are too small for energy efficiency, etc.
  • Install electric charging station(s) Here is a link to Tesla’s program.
  • Other – you choose and describe on application.


4. Educate/Advocate/Lead

  • Integrate your environmental/sustainability program and goals into your brand message.
  • Promote environmental issues by creating an employee sustainability committee, calendar of local environmental happenings available to employees/public, or providing space for green tips or ideas in an employee/customer newsletter, blog or email.
  • Encourage employee environmental volunteer days (to give back to the community) and provide some type of acknowledgment for their service.
  • Educate customers with signage about straw use, towels (in lodging facilities) glasses of water when requested (in restaurants), and/or other recycling/composting/reusing programs at your facility.
  • Contact your local legislators about issues that deal with sustainability.  MSIA provides a list of bills we are watching on this page.
  • Join and/or support environmental/sustainability organizations that align with your sustainability goals.
  • Encourage employees and customers to embrace sustainability by making it easy for them to participate – examples: install bike racks, a bike commuter shower, water bottle refill station, etc.
  • Create a sustainability plan road map.  Outline how you plan to achieve specific goals by specific dates.
  • Other – you choose and describe on application.

When you are ready, fill out this application form.  It is a Microsoft Word form so you can download it and fill it in right on your computer or other device. If you prefer, fill out this application form, which is a fillable pdf.

The Rules:

Applications are accepted annually and must be completed by April 1 each year, so that we can announce results on Earth Day.  The results will be for the prior winter season. As an example, applications received by April 1 2020, will  be valid to receive the certification for the 2019/20 winter. However, you don’t have to wait until April to submit your application. We’ll accept them anytime you’re ready. We just won’t make the announcements until April each year.

An initiative can only be used once.  As an example, if you recycle and provide recycle bins for customers and staff you can count this as “Recycling” under Managing Waste but you can’t double dip and also count this under Educate/Advocate/Lead as “Encouraging Employees and customers to embrace sustainability by making it easy for them to participate.”

What You Get:

MSIA members who achieve the Sustainability Certification will receive:

1. Recognition on the MSIA website and in our press release

2. A toolkit with the MSIA Sustainability Certification logo in the category attained.

3. Permission to use the logo on your website, in newsletters, on printed material, and in your advertising and marketing efforts. Sorry, in order to keep on the sustainable track, we are not printing door stickers.

So good luck!  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  The MSIA email address is  Our phone is (248) 620-4448.