Name: Julie A. Klein
Title: Director of Environmental Health & Safety
Company: Grand Teton Lodge Company
Number of years with company: Almost four years.
Prior experience: Prior to joining Grand Teton Lodge Company, Klein was the recycling program administrator for the City and County of Denver. Her career also includes positions with the Colorado Center for Environmental Management, Waste Management of Colorado, Winter Park Resort and several other companies.
Primary responsibility: “My primary responsibility is to lead our charge to support progressive environmental management and to help our company set a leadership example for all hospitality entities.”
What makes Grand Teton Lodge Company unique: “Our commitment to environmental management as a core value and our passion for what we do.”
Biggest environmental challenge ahead: “The biggest challenge is addressing the changing needs of travelers, especially ones looking for higher end products, while still meeting our environmental goals.”
Advice for companies considering green programs: “You can have a positive impact even with small changes. Start out small and then build on your successes. As long as you have senior level management support, you can be successful.”
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYO.—If every hotelier had an office window view of the Tetons, chances are pretty good that the U.S lodging industry would be much farther along in its quest to green itself. It is the Tetons in Grand Teton National Park that Julie Klein gets to view every day as director of environmental health & safety of Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC). The majestic mountains inspire her to preserve and protect the area’s beauty.
GTLC is the concessionaire in Grand Teton National Park that operates the 385-room Jackson Lake Lodge, 166 cabins and tent cabins at Colter Bay Village, and the 37 four-diamond Jenny Lake Lodge cabins. Klein leads GTLC’s Envision program. It offers a systematic approach to sustainable business practices that preserves the environment, ensures quality service, and provides for the health and safety of guests and employees.
Klein is convinced that environmental protection can go hand in hand with a quality guest experience.
“You can have a four-diamond property and still have a strong environmental program,” she says.
Envision, which Klein had a role in creating, focuses on the following: best practices that minimize impacts; the use of renewable energy and a reduction in reliance on fossil fuels; the purchasing of recycled and high-quality, durable products in all operational areas; and the education of employees and guests about the company’s conservation and sustainability programs.
An award-winning environmental management systems expert, Klein is a strong proponent of measuring one’s progress and impact. That is one of the reasons she led GTLC’s effort to pursue ISO 14001 certification. The program, largely an administrative system, provided GTLC with third-party verification of its environmental management system. ISO 14001 provides a framework for continuous improvement.
“You cannot improve what you don’t measure,” Klein says.
Environmental Efforts Make a Difference
To attract additional meetings business, GTLC launched a “Go Green, Get Green” initiative. Klein says GTLC’s green marketing efforts already have yielded additional meetings business.
GTLC’s concern for the environment permeates every part of its operations. Here are just a few more examples of the company’s environmental programs:
• GTLC is owned by Vail Resorts Management Co. Vail Resorts recently announced that it will offset 100 percent of its companywide energy consumption by purchasing nearly 152,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy. Vail Resorts is now the second largest corporate purchaser of wind power in the United States.
• An ethanol blend fuel (E10) is offered in GTLC’s service stations. The fuel generates fewer emissions that traditional blends and its purchase supports U.S. companies.
• GTLC now collects and recycles 150 tons of paper, plastics, wood, glass and metals from maintenance and visitor operations every year. Including horse manure, the company diverts and recycles more than 300 tons a year, about one-third of its total waste.
• In GTLC’s food and beverage operations, organic and free-range products are used. Where possible, local food products are purchased. The company also offers a selection of organically grown wines.
As a child, Klein participated in community-based programs such as stream cleanups and grass-roots recycling efforts. Today, Klein is successfully leading one of the lodging industry’s most ambitious environmental programs. It is obvious her green roots run deep.
To learn more, go to Grand Teton Lodge Company.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.