National park concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts received two top environmental achievement awards from the National Park Service (NPS) for the company’s environmental efforts at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and at Grand Canyon Railway, which operates a daily train tour to the Grand Canyon from Williams, Ariz. Xanterra also won honorable mention awards for its environmental activities at Zion Lodge in Zion National Park and at Yellowstone National Park.
The National Park Service announced this year’s 10 top award winners and four honorable mention award-winners last week.
“We take our commitment to preserving and protecting the environment quite seriously, and it is extremely gratifying to be recognized for our efforts,” said Chris Lane, vice president of environmental affairs for Xanterra. “We are continually striving to enhance our environmental performance and to measure the results of our initiatives with integrity, using established protocols and measurement systems. These award-winning programs are successful because we have many employees who embrace Xanterra’s environmental philosophy.”
Lane cited the following accomplishments in each of the four award-winning locations:
- Top Award – “Greening a Railroad Operation,” Grand Canyon Railway. Since acquiring the legendary Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) in 2007, Xanterra has implemented numerous programs to make the operation as environmentally sustainable as possible. For example, the company switched from diesel fuel to 100 percent recycled waste vegetable oil from Grand Canyon restaurants to power its special runs of steam locomotives. Additionally, rain water and snow melt were harvested in 2010, collecting 90,000 gallons of water for reuse in their steam operations. The train was the first short-line tourist railroad in the U.S. to receive the ISO 14001 third-party certification for its environmental management system (EMS). Other programs include reusing thousands of railroad ties for landscape and fencing applications, burning all waste “used” oil on site in shop heaters during winter months, diverting 500 pounds of glass a week from the solid waste stream to be reused in landscape applications, and diverting paper waste directly to a local paper mill for the manufacturing of the 100 percent recycled paper that Xanterra purchases for operations across the country. Among GCR’s many accomplishments in the environmental arena were reducing hazardous waste generation, fuel, water and electricity consumption by 97 percent, 50 percent, 53 percent and 17 percent, respectively in only three years.
- Top Award – “Xanterra’s Environmental Achievements at Grand Canyon,” Xanterra South Rim. Xanterra South Rim has long been an innovative industry leader, with one of the primary goals of its environmental management system being water conservation due to the extraordinary amount of electricity required to pump water up to the South Rim. For example, Xanterra completed renovation of public restrooms in the Bright Angel Lodge as part of an eventual LEED-Gold renovation. By installing the most technologically advanced equipment available, the new bathrooms will save more than 4.3 million gallons of water and save 68,250kWh of electricity per year. Beyond water consumption, Xanterra recently purchased six more tour buses – totaling 11 in the fleet – that operate on cleaner burning compressed natural gas, replacing outdated diesel-powered buses. Another initiative – implemented in partnership with Grand Canyon Railway, National Park Service and other entities – was to stage an event to properly dispose of more than 500,000 pounds of stockpiled electronics waste in an environmentally and ethically responsible manner. The company trains all employees about its environmental programs, and materials are available in 49 languages. By implementing these and many other initiatives, between 2000 and 2010, Xanterra has been able to reduce electricity consumption by 17 percent, water consumption by 34 percent, solid waste generation by 40 percent and vehicle fuel consumption by 12 percent.
- Honorable Mention – “Sustainability Index and Scorecard,” Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Xanterra in Yellowstone earned an honorable mention for the company’s development of first-of-its-kind environmental sustainability index and scorecards for products in a retail store in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel that is focused on educating visitors about the impacts of climate change and pollution in national parks. Called “For Future Generations: Yellowstone Gifts,” the store received an NPS environmental achievement award in 2010. The scorecards rate products in the store on 16 several sustainable attributes such as “recyclable,” “organic,” locally made” and “biodegradable.”
- Honorable Mention – “Vehicle Fleet Efficiency Initiative,” Zion Lodge. Zion Lodge earned an honorable mention for its program to reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions in its vehicle fleet. Examples of some of the projects include replacing older propane-powered golf carts with solar-electric hybrid cars, eliminating less fuel-efficient vehicles from its fleet, eliminating two lengthy vehicle trips per week by switching to a recycling service for hauling recyclables and implementing an employee ride-sharing service.
Many of Xanterra’s programs – and the results of those programs – are described in detail in the company’s 2011 Sustainability Report. The report is available in every Xanterra guest room as well as online at this link http://xanterra.com/2011-sustainability-report-446936416-8404.html?design=new.