Hotel Online  Special Report

Operating 2,000 Hotel Rooms and 14 Restaurants in Yellowstone National Park, Concessioner Xanterra
Finds Uncommon Answers to Common
Environmental Challenges
DENVER, June 16, 2004 - It's not easy to be an environmental leader when recycling facilities are often on the other side of a mountain pass and your laundry load exceeds 2.5 million pounds each year. Because of the endless challenges of operating sustainable facilities in the world's first national park, employees of concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone National Park have had to find uncommon answers to common environmental challenges.

"Catchwords around here are 'recycle,' 'reuse' and 're-think," said Jim Hanna, environmental affairs director for Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone. "Traditional environmental programs don't always work when your operations include more than 2,000 guest rooms, 14 restaurants, housing for 2,600 employees, transportation centers, a huge laundry building and many other facilities spread throughout a 2.2 million-acre park. In short, we have to be creative."

The company has been so successful, in fact, that it is on track to have the first employee houses in the country to be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Council provides guidelines for green buildings and recognizes buildings with different levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, based on a point system. The buildings are located in Gardiner, Mont., and will be the first buildings in the state to have LEED certification. They're also the first in Gardiner outfitted with solar electric panels. 

In addition, the company will receive ISO 14001 certification later this summer. ISO 14001 is an international Environmental Management System (EMS) standard published in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The goal of ISO 14001 is to support and recognize environmental protection and pollution prevention through the implementation of continuous improvement initiatives in a rigorous management framework. While currently widespread in Europe and Japan, the certification is relatively new in the U.S.

Xanterra's environmental management system - called Ecologix - is rooted in the company's long-held belief that all business decisions must balance economic viability with ecological responsibility. At Yellowstone, environmental initiatives within the EMS include:

  • Recycling cardboard, aluminum and mixed paper from throughout the park and transporting it to a common collection station in Gardiner, Mont. In 2003, Xanterra recycled 550,000 pounds of material including six tons of aluminum and steel cans, 63 tons of glass, 128 tons of cardboard and 58 tons of mixed paper. The company also recycled used automotive batteries, household alkaline batteries, Freon, antifreeze and paint solvents.
  • Publishing a sustainability report to document the company-wide results of Xanterra's environmental management program. Xanterra is the first national park hospitality company to publish such a report and also the first company in the entire tourism industry to create quantifiable environmental performance metrics specific to hospitality.
  • Saving 3,500 gallons of water daily by installing tunnel washers in the laundry and using an innovative water recovery system. With an annual laundry load in excess of 2,558,000 pounds of laundry, the company has implemented a variety of other water-saving initiatives, including asking guests to re-use towels and linens in order to minimize water and detergent use. 
  • Purchasing cleaner-burning and efficient four-stroke outboard engines for the rental boats on Yellowstone Lake. Older two-stroke engines burning an oil/gas mixture have been phased out.
  • Burning used engine oil from the fleet operation as heating oil in the transportation center.  This "energy reclamation" for motor oil eliminates the need for other disposal methods and reduces the demand for additional heating fuels and sources.
  • Reusing cardboard boxes and packing materials for mail orders and deliveries whenever possible.
  • Using bulk dispensers in all fast-food operations instead of individually packaged condiments.
  • Reusing worn terry cloth as cleaning towels.
  • Setting office printers and copiers to double-sided copies.
  • Donating worn bed fabrics and soap products collected from guest rooms to charitable organizations.
  • Leasing 45 new four-stroke snowmobiles that are 65 percent more fuel efficient, reduce hydrocarbon emissions and generate significantly less noise than two-stroke engines.
  • Using bulk liquid soap dispensers in campground restrooms and shower facilities.
  • Reusing old guest room furniture in offices.
  • Installing recycling receptacles in guest outlets. 
  • Reducing energy use by replacing more than 17,000 incandescent light bulbs with efficient, long-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Replacing older vehicles from the transportation department with Toyota Echoes and hybrid Toyota Priuses.
  • Replacing short-haul maintenance and campground vehicles with zero-emission electric carts.
  • Eliminating all Styrofoam drinking cups and replacing them with paper cups.
  • Purchasing environmentally sensitive paper products.
  • Encouraging guests to conserve heat and water and to recycle glass and aluminum.
  • Serving Conservation Beef in Yellowstone restaurants. The beef is produced from cows raised on natural grasses on the Western range. No growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the animals. Meat is dry-aged to enhance flavor, and the program supports wildlife habitat conservation in partnership with the Nature Conservancy.
  • Offering Niman Ranch pork in Yellowstone restaurants. The pork is produced from animals raised on sustainable lands and fed hormone-free, natural feeds. Niman Ranch adheres to a strict code of husbandry principals. 
  • Serving wild Alaska salmon instead of farmed salmon in several restaurants. Xanterra is the first U.S. hospitality company to be granted the "Chain of Custody" certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. This important certification guarantees all of Xanterra's wild Alaska salmon menu items can be traced to their source, assuring consumers that the salmon is from a fishery that has met the Marine Stewardship Council's stringent environmental standards.
  • Becoming a member of the Chef's Collaborative, a national network of more than 1,000 members of the food community who promote sustainable cuisine. The Chef's Collaborative educates chefs and consumers about local sustainable products and practices and also works to improve the quality and taste of sustainable food products.
  • In partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., offering organic shade-grown Fair Trade Certified coffee in many of its restaurants.
  • Offering Silk brand organic soy milk in restaurants.
  • Implementing a Foodservice Energy Awareness Program that teaches all foodservice employees to participate in energy conservation in a variety of ways.
  • Purchasing only recycled paper for office use and using soy-based inks. When appropriate, paper materials are laminated so they last longer.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. operates lodges, restaurants and other concessions at national parks and state parks and resorts. Xanterra is the country's largest national park concessioner. The company operates concessions in the following locations: Yellowstone National Park, the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Death Valley National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Everglades National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial; and at the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif.; Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and eight Ohio State Parks. 



Mona Mesereau

Also See: Environmental Management Practices in US Hotels / Ishmael Mensah / May 2004
Xanterra Parks & Resorts Completes Renovations to Four of its Seven Hotels in Grand Canyon National Park / May 2004
Opening the Old Faithful Inn for the Summer After it has Been Closed for Six Months Is a Major Job / April 2004

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