Jim MacInnes knows a thing or two about efficiency. As CEO and co-owner of Crystal Mountain Resort since the 1980s he along with his wife and resort President, Chris MacInnes, has built one of Michigan’s premier outdoor recreation destinations, offering skiing, golfing, spa and conference services for hundreds of thousands of guests every year. Under their leadership, the Crystal development and operations team has built the resort into what it is today, and Jim has maintained a strong focus on community-building and efficiency, especially when it comes to the infrastructure and the energy needed to power their business.
Over the past 36 years Jim has noticed the accelerating effects of climate change in Northern Michigan in the form of more drastic and variable weather, increases in precipitation and other extreme weather events, along with rising average temperatures. Using his background in electrical engineering with a degree from the University of California Irvine and previous experience in the power industry, Jim has pursued energy efficient, and clean energy alternatives to power the resort. These initiatives have been key to ensuring the resort operates efficiently, cost effectively and with an environmentally conscious focus.
From transitioning to LED lighting, more efficient energy control systems, public EV charging, reusing water in more sustainable ways, and investing in geothermal energy that now heats and cools a 30,000 square foot inn at Crystal Mountain, Jim is committed to a low carbon future for his business, the surrounding communities, and Michigan as a whole. Despite the need to invest in snow-making machinery due to warmer temperatures in the winter months, the resort now runs on 62% zero carbon electricity.
With the climate crisis continuing to accelerate, Jim and Chris recognize the importance of investing in a carbon neutral future and have led by example in how they run their business. As we try to facilitate meaningful action to address climate change, Jim says that “the emphasis needs to be on disinvestment in fossil fuels and turning to clean energy alternatives based on systems thinking.”
For Jim, building back our economy from COVID better and greener presents a unique opportunity to tackle climate change and necessitates becoming much less dependent on fossil fuels. He believes that through investments in more resilient infrastructure, pursuing innovative ways to upgrade our power grids, and by accelerating our energy transition using more development-friendly clean energy regulations and tax incentives, we can ensure that Northern Michigan and places like Crystal Mountain Resort continue to be uniquely beautiful and majestic destinations for generations to come.
“There are many ways to significantly reduce carbon emissions here in the United States and we can be a leader. The technology and opportunities are currently available, we just need the will to use them.”