BUFFALO, N.Y.—Delaware North’s proprietary stewardship platform, GreenPath, helps ensure the company carefully manages its environmental impact and positively contributes to the communities it serves. In recent months, locations throughout Delaware North’s parks and resorts portfolio have taken on several high-profile, impactful and innovative initiatives in support of GreenPath.
Through GreenPath, Delaware North sets strict guidelines for energy and water consumption, waste management and other standards at its 200-plus operating locations around world. Since its inception in the 1990s, GreenPath has won dozens of awards from the likes of NASA, the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Travel Assn.
“Delaware North has placed a high priority on environmental and community stewardship, which is especially important as a global company that continues to grow and evolve,” said Vicki McMichael, Director of Compliance and Sustainability for Delaware North’s Parks and Resorts Division. “Our operations continue to make significant strides in this area, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of sustainability in the hospitality industry.”
Grant Grove Restaurant Certified LEED Gold
Building and environmental standards played a prominent role in the design of the new Grant Grove Restaurant, which received LEED (Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council in December 2017.
Grant Grove reopened in Kings Canyon National Park in mid-2017 after a 10-month, $6.4 million renovation. Delaware North, which operates the 8,000-square-foot space for the National Park Service, redesigned and reconstructed the restaurant using sustainable materials and construction techniques.
The restaurant’s new menu is centered around locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients. Highlights include California-raised grass-fed beef, San Joaquin Valley-raised organic poultry and eggs, and Monterey Bay Aquarium-approved seafood.
Grant Grove has also been certified as a Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Assn.
Zero Waste Goals in Motion at National Park Locations
Delaware North has committed to achieving zero waste in each of the national parks in which it operates. In the coming years, the company’s operations in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park and Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway, intend to reach zero waste according to LEED’s Total Resource Use and Efficiency (TRUE) standards.
The locations would join Delaware North’s Yellowstone General Stores warehouse, operated in Yellowstone National Park, which in 2016 became the first facility within the United States’ 58 national parks to become zero waste certified.
The zero-waste concept is based on emulating sustainable natural cycles so that all discarded materials become resources for others to use, thus minimizing waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. Businesses with a 90 percent waste diversion rate can apply for this certification. Once accepted into the program, the business must complete a detailed scorecard process and pass an on-site validation audit.
In preparation, eight Delaware North associates have attained TRUE Advisor Certification to support its zero waste program. The company’s parks and resorts division has also named a zero waste chairperson to guide each of the locations’ efforts.
Last Straw Campaign Aims to Reduce Plastic Waste
In spring 2018, Delaware North began rolling out The Last Straw, a campaign to reduce plastic waste at each of its properties by offering drinking straws on a request-only basis.
The program aims to cut down on the estimated 2.3 million plastic drinking straws served to guests at company-operated parks and resorts locations in 2017. Delaware North will sustain The Last Straw campaign through associate training programs and the implementation of compostable products.
The program was initially rolled out by Delaware North’s travel division in advance of Earth Day 2018, followed soon thereafter by the company’s parks and resorts and Sportservice divisions.
Housekeeping Opt-Out Programs Expand
Several Delaware North-owned-and/or-operated hotels and resorts are on the front line of the growing trend of hotels offering incentives for travelers who opt out of housekeeping services in order to conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The incentives offered are often tailored to the type of hotel and where it is located. For example, Yavapai Lodge (located in Grand Canyon National Park) and Skyland Resort (located in Shenandoah National Park) both offer guests a reusable water bottle, proactively reducing the potential for single-use plastic bottles in national parks.
Chain hotels, like the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone (outside Yellowstone National Park), The Westin Buffalo (Buffalo, N.Y.) and the Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge (in Whitefish, Mont., outside Glacier National Park), each offer additional loyalty points—an ever-important currency for frequent travelers and rewards program members.
Meanwhile, other hotels offer food-and-beverage-based incentives. Honey Creek Resort (located on Iowa’s Rathbun Lake) and The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park (outside Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado) each offer a free drink at their respective on-site restaurants. Sea Crest Beach Hotel, on Cape Cod, offers a $5 breakfast voucher.
Innovative Composting Solution Implemented
Delaware North has installed an Earth Flow composting unit in Shenandoah National Park, where the company operates food and beverage services, retail and lodging for the National Park Service. The need for a new composting solution arose when Delaware North’s compost partner near the park closed for business, and the situation was further complicated by the Shenandoah’s remote location, the distance between Delaware North’s facilities within the park, and concerns over wildlife intrusion.
In researching options, Delaware North’s team at Shenandoah discovered Green Mountain’s intermodal Earth Flow, an in-vessel composting unit. This system uses aeration and an automated auger in a sealed vessel to expedite the composting process (from six months to 14 to 21 days) and yield a very consistent end product. The system is solar powered, which also allows Delaware North’s operations at the park to compost more items, and to take a significant step forward in its goal of producing zero landfill waste.
The compost program is a closed loop system. The end product is nutrient rich soil, which is used to landscape Delaware North property, given to the National Park Service for use in its nurseries, and donated to local nonprofit farms in the area.
Food Digesting at Kennedy Space Center Complex
In an effort to cut down on food waste, several of Delaware North’s operating locations have introduced digesters into their kitchens.
At Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which Delaware North operates for NASA, a Food Cycler was delivered in May 2018. The Food Cycler breaks down food waste from the 1.7 million guests who visit the visitor complex each year, eliminating food scraps from going into the landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The digester provides a closed loop system and produces a soil amendment that is used to support landscaped areas at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
In addition, aerobic digesters have been installed at The Gideon Putnam (BioHiTech’s Revolution Series Digester), which Delaware North operates for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park, which Delaware North owns and operates in the Rocky Mountain National Park gateway town of Estes Park, Colo. Each digester is fed hourly and has a total capacity of 208 pounds.
Green Meetings Option Introduced in Estes Park
The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park, the 147-room rustically modern hotel owned and operated by Delaware North near Rocky Mountain National Park, recently announced a new “Green Meetings” initiative to give groups the option of making their meetings and conferences more environmentally conscious.
The Green Meetings initiative has several components. Groups that choose to participate are provided sustainable food and beverage options, including reusable, compostable or recyclable serviceware, reusable glassware for refreshment stations and straws being provided only when asked for.
In addition, all food waste is composted in The Ridgeline’s on-site food digester, and a waste station will be set up to assist guests in sorting recyclable and compostable materials. Groups are also encouraged to use the hotel’s audio-visual equipment rather than printing paper copies of presentations.