DENVER—At Xanterra Parks & Resorts, designing and remodeling buildings are opportunities to minimize environmental impact not only during the construction phase but for the life of those buildings as well. Over the past decade, Xanterra has increased its efforts to be a better steward of the environment, including the area of design and construction.
Xanterra has developed “Guidelines for Environmentally Sustainable Design and Construction” which defines Xanterra’s expectations for all contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, consultants and vendors working with Xanterra on the design, construction or rehabilitation of buildings in national parks. Xanterra uses the guidelines to ensure that new construction and renovations of buildings will be as environmentally sensitive as possible.
“In many ways it is easier—and definitely more effective—to take a building from the design stage to final construction and minimize the environmental impact,” said Chris Lane, Xanterra’s vice president of environmental affairs. “We have been able to build upon years of accumulated knowledge and ideas to incorporate building techniques and materials that are far beyond what were used in our parks years ago.”
Xanterra supports the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. In 2004 Xanterra transformed a contaminated “brownfield” site in Yellowstone National Park into employee housing that became the first LEED-certified buildings in the state of Montana as well as the entire national park system. The two 2,000-square-foot houses feature high-insulation foundations and walls, passive solar heat, thermal heat, a solar electric power system, structural insulated roof panels, appliances that minimize the use of water and gas and many other sustainable features.
Setting an Example at Crater Lake
In 2006, Xanterra completed construction of the $3.7 million Annie Creek Restaurant and Gift Shop in Crater Lake National Park. The building was designed to complement the classic national park architecture evident in the Crater Lake Lodge while using a variety of environmentally sustainable construction techniques. For example, the company preserved trees that would be targeted for removal under normal circumstances and reduced the impact of the construction footprint. The building’s sustainable architectural design includes use of sustainably harvested wood products, state-of-the-art HVAC systems, an airlock vestibule to limit air infiltration, energy used to reheat interior spaces and formaldehyde-free and post-consumer recycled materials. The building is powered by 100 percent renewable energy purchases and has fixtures to reduce water consumption by 40 percent.
Also in 2006, Xanterra renovated six guest suites at Zion Lodge in Zion National Park to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Now called “Ecologix Environmental Suites,” these feature bamboo floor entryways, recycled content Interface Entropy Carpet, dual-flush toilets, renewable solar and wind energy, organic bamboo or organic cotton sheets and linens, all-natural biodegradable amenities, automated heat and air-conditioning sensors and lighting products and techniques that minimize energy usage.
Xanterra has long been recognized as an environmental leader in the hospitality industry. For example, the company received the “Sustainable Hotel of the Year” award at the HotelWorld Global Hospitality and Design Award Ceremony and Expo recently for its environmental achievements at Zion Lodge. Additionally, Xanterra will soon introduce “sustainable amenities” in its lodge operations and will complete construction on one of the largest renewable energy systems in the United States— a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic system in Death Valley National Park.
Click here for more details on Xanterra’s Guidelines for Environmentally Sustainable Design and Construction.