Sustaining a Softer Footprint in Diverse Hotel Locations
Examples of Guest-Facing and Back-of-the-House Sustainability
By Catherine Greener Vice President of Sustainability, Xanterra Parks & Resorts | May 11, 2014
Legendary Hospitality with a softer footprint-that's the Xanterra Parks and Resort mission statement. The Softer Footprint, the commitment to environmental stewardship is a long-standing commitment of the company, and a never-ending journey of learning. Unlike other important hospitality disciplines like food and beverage, sustainability barely was recognized fifteen years ago. It is a complex puzzle balancing efficiency, environmental regulations and the right amount of guest engagement. Projects are often piloted, analyzed for their "stickiness", modified and then with the help of employees, deployed across the company. The following two stories illustrate how Xanterra strives to deliver sustainability throughout its operations--one invisible to guests and the other targeting guest awareness and actions.
Saving 1 Million Gallons of Water in Zion National Park Annually
The Virgin River flows near Xanterra's Zion Lodge operation in Zion National Park. The Virgin River, responsible for carving the majestic sandstone monoliths of scenic Zion Canyon, is part of the Colorado River basin. During the last 12 years, the Colorado River has lost 35 percent of the stored water available due to increased consumption and widespread drought. As the demand for water has exceeded the supply, numerous areas of the river and its tributaries have already dried up and need to be restored, while others are in urgent need of preservation. A recent, two-year study conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation and agencies representing the seven Colorado River basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California) concludes that if the current course remains unchanged, the magnificent Colorado River will eventually slow to a trickle and the Southwest will become a vast desert. As Zion concessionaire, Xanterra committed to making a difference- by setting a goal to reduce water consumption by three percent annually (beginning in 2000).
The lodge's Red Rock Grill kitchen uses walk-in cooling units with water-cooled condensers, which are efficient in warm climates. The compression and vaporization of the refrigerant in the system cools the units, and heat is transferred to the condenser, which must be cooled along with the refrigerant. In this system, cold water passed through the system, past the condenser and through the compressor, transferring heat from the system into the cool water. The problem with this design was that the used water was just sent down the drain. Since this water comes from the Virgin River, a Xanterra engineer asked, "how can the water be reused?"
With a few changes, the water is redirected through a heat exchanger and two solar water heaters to extract heat. The water, now cool enough to be used again, is then re-circulated through the system, cooling the system over and over rather than constantly introducing new, cool, potable water.
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