Name: Chris Lane
Title: Senior Director of Environmental Affairs
Company: Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Number of Years with Xanterra: Six
Primary responsibilities: “Development and oversight of Xanterra’s environmental management systems—in the areas of compliance and sustainability. I also oversee a team of managers and directors. They implement the programs I develop.”
What keeps me motivated: “Knowing that Xanterra is reducing its impact on the planet. Knowing that we are reducing greenhouse gases, increasing recycling and pursuing renewable energy. When I see that happening, it’s what gets me going in the morning.”
My company’s most significant accomplishment so far: “It is hard to say one thing. There are a lot of things that we are proud of. We have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent in the last five years.”
Biggest challenge ahead: “Our biggest challenge is to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our use of fossil fuel. Making the transition to renewable energy will continue to be a challenge.”
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO.—It takes a while just to read the long list of Xanterra Parks & Resort’s environmental accomplishments—the awards, the certifications, the many resource-saving initiatives. Spend some time at the company’s website or read its most recent Sustainability Report and you will quickly realize the company, with its green programs, is way ahead of most lodging companies.
Chris Lane, senior director of environmental affairs for Xanterra, has had a lot to do with the company’s success. He is one of the few people in the lodging industry to work in an environmental position at an executive level.
“Every company needs someone at that level,” Lane says. “You cannot carry out a successful companywide program without that type of person.”
Lane says he always has had an interest in the environment. When he moved to Colorado after college, he was hooked. He has worked for Aspen Skiing Company, which also has a strong environmental focus, and for the last six years with Xanterra. As an executive with Xanterra, he not only oversees the company’s environmental efforts but also contributes to marketing, budgeting and new business development decisions.
The environmentalist oversees a lot. Xanterra is the United States’ largest national and state park management company. It manages 33 hotels and lodges, 64 restaurants, three marinas, five golf courses and 1,800 campsites. A large team of managers and directors report to him.
Company Establishes Benchmarks
Lane says he enjoys all of Xanterra’s successes and gets a kick out of companies copying what they are doing. In fact, in its 2005 Sustainability Report, the company states that it is its goal to set the pace in the tourism industry by establishing the standards by which other tourist-related organizations measure themselves.
Xanterra is meticulous about progress measurement. It tracks its environmental performance through its computerized Ecometrix system, which monitors consumption of electricity, natural gas, diesel, propane, fuel oil and water. It also tracks generation of solid waste, recycled materials, hazardous waste, sustainable cuisine and greenhouse gas emissions on a monthly and annual basis. Tracking allows the company to analyze trends, stay compliant, reduce liabilities, and move forward toward sustainability.
“Our mantra is that you can’t save or manage what you can’t measure,” Lane says.
The following are just a few of Xanterra’s accomplishments:
• The company is halfway to reaching its 10-year World Wildlife Fund greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 10 percent.
• Electricity, fuel oil, and diesel fuel—relatively polluting energy sources—decreased 6.3, 12.1, and 13.3 percent, respectively, in usage normalized for revenue from 2000 to 2004. This is evidence of the company’s attempts to use cleaner fuels while conserving energy, even through changing economic environments.
• In the past few years, Xanterra has dedicated significant resources to increasing renewable energy at its facilities. At Crater Lake and Zion, 50 percent of each operation’s electricity usage is derived from wind power. At Mount Rushmore, more than 33 percent of all electricity is from wind power. Xanterra also now uses 27,000 super-efficient compact fluorescent lamps in its operations.
• The most significant transportation initiative that Xanterra has established is its new CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) standard. Under this initiative, Xanterra is voluntarily seeking to increase the average fuel efficiency of its fleet vehicles to 35 miles per gallon (combined city/highway) for all new vehicles purchased per year by 2015.
Lane says one of the most recent programs involved creation of a mobile propane bottle recycling unit. At park campsites around the country, propane bottles are left as waste. To Xanterra, that was unacceptable. The company now uses its mobile unit to remove excess propane fuel from the bottles. Thousands of bottles are collected each day. Fuel pulled from the bottles powers the propane-driven vehicle used to collect them. The steel is also recycled.
Even with so much progress made, Lane and others at Xanterra realize that in such a resource-consuming industry, there is still a long way to go. In the company’s Sustainability Report, its 2015 Environmental Vision goals are outlined. The goals include slowing global warming, preserving natural resources, minimizing hazardous substances, and protecting the natural environment.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.