Sustainable development plays an increasingly central role in our everyday lives. This also applies to tourism.
We want to shape the future together and lay the foundations for the present and future generations. The careful handling of our environment and resources is at the forefront. Especially here in the Saas Valley, the development due to climate change can be seen and experienced. Our glaciers are also retreating noticeably. This is why we want to do something now and commit ourselves.
Sustainable development in the Saas Valley does not only mean environmental protection. Sustainable development strives for a balance between economic, ecological and social objectives. It is also a creative process and requires a new understanding of cooperation.
Ecology: We want to protect our distinctive landscape, our wonderful nature and the unique biodiversity in the valley.
Society: We want to maintain and/or improve the quality of life for present and future generations in the Saas Valley and beyond.
Economy: We want to support our local economy in sustainable development.
The Saas Valley is surrounded by glaciers. In total there are almost 20 glaciers in the valley. The best known of these are the Allalin-, Fee-, Trift-, Grüebu- and Schwarzberg glaciers.
Like everywhere else, the glaciers are retreating. There are various comparative pictures which show this drastic retreat. Across Switzerland, there is even talk of a ten percent loss of ice volume over the last five years (srf news).
In principle, the snow cover from winter could protect the glaciers from the heat in summer. However, this effect is diminishing and the snow is usually no longer sufficient, as hot summers predominate.
Here in the Saas Valley you can experience the glaciers up close. Whether in summer on hikes in Hohsaas, Längfluh, Mittelallin and for alpine hiking enthusiasts at our four SAC huts (Weissmies, Almagell, Britannia and Mischabel) or of course in winter for snow sports. Nevertheless, we want to protect our nature and take care of it.
Sustainable development has been pursued in the Saas Valley for some time now. A good prerequisite for this is the car-free Saas-Fee. In addition, with the Mattmark dam and its power station, we have a hydroelectric power supply that covers all destinations. Below you will find a list of individual sustainable activities in the Saas Valley.
Mattmark power stations
The Mattmark reservoir in Saas-Almagell is the largest earth dam in Europe. It holds around 100 million m3 for the supply of electricity. The water power generated by the reservoir is used throughout the Saastal. The average annual production is 649 million kWh, which is enough for around 97,000 people per year in Switzerland.
District heating network EnAlpin
The district heating network, which was built together with EnAlpin in Saas-Fee, offers businesses and households the opportunity to connect to renewable energy. Various hotels and buildings already make use of this network, including the "Aqua Allalin" youth hostel, the Hotel Walliserhof, the Hotel The Capra and the community centre in Saas-Fee.
The heart of the district heating network is located in the technical centre of the car park in Saas-Fee. Here, especially in summer, heat is extracted from the ambient air and supplied to the connected properties.
In summer, the heat is used to produce hot water. This also produces some excess heat. During the warm months, this is stored in the rock below the car park in 90 geothermal probes. In winter, heat is consumed by this storage unit for heating the village. Part of the energy for the heat pump is supplied by the photovoltaic system on the roof of the car park. The remaining part is supplied by EnAlpin (NaturEnergie). This NaturEnergie consists of 100% Valais water and solar energy. (nau)
The network is currently being extended to 2022. The street «Untere Dorfstrasse» is to be developed in a further stage and additional buildings will enable the use of sustainable and renewable energy. In future, the completed district heating network will be able to supply up to 200 single-family homes.
Photovoltaic system Kreuzboden
The photovoltaic system of the Bergbahnen Hohsaas on Kreuzboden Saas-Grund serves the sustainable energy supply of the cable car system. The system produces 160,000 KWh of electricity annually. This electricity is fed into the power supply at Kreuzboden and consumed directly by these systems. In 25 years, they reduce CO2 emissions from their installations by 570,000 kg, which corresponds to about 45,600 trees.
«Energiestadtlabel» municipality of Saas-Fee
As early as 1951, the glacier village decided to remain traffic-free. As there had previously been no road to Saas-Fee, the village has always been car-free. In the same year the village became a member of the «Gemeinschaft autofreier Schweizer Tourismusorte» (GAST, a community of car-free swiss tourist resorts). Saas-Fee is also a founding member of the "Alliance in the Alps", a network of municipalities comprising over 200 international Alpine communities. These are committed to ensuring that the objectives of the Alpine Convention for sustainable development in the Alpine region are implemented in concrete terms.
In 2002 the municipality was awarded the label «Energiestadt». This label is a record of achievement for municipalities that exemplify and implement a sustainable municipal energy policy. Since 2012, Saas-Fee has been using clean electricity from Valais hydropower for the entire municipal territory. With the construction of the wellnesshostel4000 and the Aqua Allalin, the village is the first high-alpine municipality in Switzerland to have a solar thermal local heating network.
I AM PRO SNOW
The Saastal Bergbahnen are also sustainably active. In 2018, they entered into a cooperation with myblueplanet and thus made a promise. myblueplanet is a non-profit and independent Swiss climate protection movement. The focus is on reducing consumption, increasing efficiency and promoting renewable energies. Since 2015 they have been spreading the campaign «I AM PRO SNOW» in Switzerland, which motivates snow sports enthusiasts for climate protection with the help of winter sports athletes. After the Paris conference, the campaign will be supplemented with "100% Comitted", whereby ski resorts and mountain communities are committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 at the latest.
Since the 2016/17 winter season, winter sports guests in Saas-Fee have benefited from a striking innovation: a shuttle bus service for skiers. The shuttle buses connect the route between the bus terminal/car park and the Alpin Express station. As befits a car-free holiday resort, the buses run emission-free. On the one hand, this serves the comfort of our winter guests, while at the same time ecological sustainability is also taken into account.
The energy city of Saas-Fee is committed to a sustainable energy supply with the solar power project "solarPerle" in 2020. There is a solar power system on the roof of the Saas-Fee school building. You can acquire subscription rights for this solar power locally and invest today in your ecological energy of tomorrow. In doing so, you are setting an example for innovative and sustainable electricity production.
Tourism should continue to be sustainable in the future. In this way we want to make our guests aware of climate change and its consequences in the Saas Valley and at the same time encourage them to help.
Travel comfortably by public transport. The bus will take you from Visp directly to us in the Saas Valley.
Stay overnight in one of our hotels, which actively promotes sustainable development.