We often view national parks as environmentally sensitive areas, and along that line of thinking we expect businesses that operate in the parks to be conscious of that in their operations. At Grand Canyon National Park, the National Park Service has recognized Xanterra Parks & Resorts for its environmental ethics.
The Park Service just honored Xanterra, which also operates in other parks including Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake and Death Valley, for operations that produced a significant decrease in water, electricity, petroleum and other resource consumption.
The Park Service recently announced Xanterra’s Environmental Achievement Award in the “Building our Future” category. The award recognized several successful environmental projects, including the company’s sustainable renovation of the historic Bright Angel Lodge. By installing water-saving equipment and implementing other conservation measures, Xanterra significantly reduced water consumption.
“Our long road toward increasingly sustainable operations began many years ago, long before being green was trendy,” said Joel Southall, director of sustainability for Xanterra South Rim. “As our environmental program has evolved, so has the commitment of Xanterra employees to ever-greener operations. Our employees – from housekeeping to engineering staff – are encouraged to recommend ways to reduce Xanterra’s footprint in every aspect of our operations.”
And Xanterra listens to those recommendations.
For example, when Xanterra replaced outdated diesel tour buses with buses powered by cleaner-burning compressed natural gas, there was the significant dilemma of what to do with the old buses. The solution concocted by the transportation department was to partner with the Bearizona Wildlife Park in nearby Williams, Arizona. Bearizona used the deconstructed buses as structural components to create a mountain-like waterfall in one of the animal habitats.
Xanterra has also taken recycling to what some might consider extreme levels. When the company renovated the historic Red Horse Cabin last year, workers managed to recycle all of the waste except what fit into three trash cans.
“Many households produce much more than three trash cans full of waste every week, and think of how much waste is typically produced during common household remodeling projects,” notes Mr. Southall. “It took intensive planning and follow-through to reduce waste to that level, and I assure you everyone working on that project thought carefully about every piece of waste material that went into the trash bin instead of the recycling bin.”
Some projects are more noticeable than others. While visitors might not be aware that Xanterra has completed LED lighting renovations at retail operations or that it purchased renewable energy credits to offset 25 percent of its electricity consumption, guests will certainly notice the intent of “For Future Generations: Grand Canyon Gifts,” the Maswik Lodge gift store. Using displays and signage, the store offers educational information about the environmental impacts of the products in the store so guests can make informed purchase choices. Displayed on fixtures with sustainable components, examples of products for sale in the store include Arizona hand-made pottery, local pinyon pine incense and reusable water bottles made from recycled materials.
Visitors also notice sustainable cuisine options when they dine in one of the restaurants Xanterra operates. More than 29 percent of total food and beverage purchases are sustainable menu products including sustainable seafood, locally grown produce and beef from local ranchers. The company’s goal is to increase that number to 50 percent by 2015.
Xanterra defines sustainable cuisine as food that is grown, harvested, processed, packaged and distributed with the least possible amount of environmental impact. The company considers food that is produced within a 400-mile radius of Grand Canyon Village as “locally grown.”
You can find more information about all of Xanterra South Rim’s environmental programs on this website.