Signal Mountain Lodge uses EMS as their Springboard to Environmental Excellence

Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park takes great pride in its work and strives to be a leader in environmental stewardship. Management and staff have ingrained sustainability into the culture, and many initiatives are now in place that work towards achieving environmental goals. Through the use of a strong Environmental Management System (EMS), Signal Mountain Lodge is able to bridge the gap between environmental compliance and environmental excellence.

The EMS

Annually, all staff at Signal Mountain Lodge are trained in EMS principles. These principles include several objectives and targets that encourage recycling, reduce consumption, and increase green purchasing. The EMS team meets monthly to discuss progress and implement new ideas. The team is made up of staff from all operational divisions, nurturing a culture of collaboration that has allowed sustainability and the EMS to thrive at Signal Mountain Lodge.

Solid Waste Management

All operational divisions participate in Signal Mountain Lodge’s extensive recycling program. The program began in 1990 and currently recycles scrap metal, aluminum cans, aluminum foil, steel cans, glass, plastic bottles, newspaper, magazines, catalogues, office pack, cardboard, ink cartridges, old/broken computer equipment, batteries and fishing line. These practices have helped Signal Mountain Lodge to greatly reduce the amount of solid waste that is generated within the park.

Retail Operations

Of the several restaurants and snack bars in Grand Teton National Park, Signal Mountain Lodge is the first to achieve certification by the Green Restaurant Association. Staff responsible for purchasing foods and supplies for the restaurants work together to ensure that all items used in restaurant operations are environmentally friendly. This includes working with local food providers, updating lists and purchasing procedures, and training restaurant staff on procuring green products. Some items of note include local organic beers, wines and sodas that are packaged in kegs to reduce the use of glass; healthy and local food options, organic teas, coffees and local ice cream, Montana cheeses, organic flour, cage free eggs, and certified local beef and meat products. The lodge participates in a seafood watch program, and to reduce its carbon footprint, it uses vendors that reduce impacts from production to distribution.

At the gift shops, the lodge is adding as many locally sourced products as possible to their inventory. Shop signage educates visitors on the origin of products as well as any other pertinent environmental educational information. A list of products is closely maintained by store managers and updated frequently. There are over 200 environmentally friendly products (i.e. snack foods, camping supplies, cooking supplies, etc.) available in the convenience stores.

Lodging Operations

Signal Mountain Lodge also emphasizes sustainable practices in their hotel and cabin rental operations. Remodeling efforts in guest rooms and restaurant areas include the use of recycled content carpet, reclaimed oak flooring, EnergyStar appliances, and energy efficient lighting fixtures. Guests staying at the lodge are educated on the environmental efforts via brochures and literature located in each room. The lodge has implemented the "Sustainable Stays" program to reduce the use of disposable water bottles. Through this program guests sign up for environmental education, and receive a reusable water bottle in return. Green purchasing efforts include the use of environmentally responsible, naturally derived, non-toxic, non-phosphate, biodegradable, concentrated laundry detergents and cleaning products. The lodge has also reduced the amount of hazardous chemicals it uses by 75%. Bulk soap dispensers are in all guest room which reduce waste from individually wrapped soap and shampoo products, and environmentally responsible cleaning and paper products are both used and sold.

Marina Operations

Both marinas at the Lodge participate in the NPS Clean Marina Program. All marina staff are trained to go above and beyond compliance with stringent fueling procedures, extensive training, and marina environmental education for both staff and guests. As a result, the Lodge is proud to report that no fuel spills or incidents have occurred for several seasons.

Beyond the Workplace

The staff at Signal Mountain Lodge take EMS priorities and initiatives beyond the workplace. Most lodge staff bike or carpool to work or other locations throughout the park, and participate in local recycling events. They are also able to take advantage of a bike share program established at the park several years ago. The Lodge has also implemented a ‘no idling’ policy for fleet and personally owned vehicles. It is obvious that the goals and targets of operations have moved far beyond day to day work tasks and into the everyday lives of staff at the park. As a result of EMS implementation and integration, quality environmental education on sustainability is reaching the park’s visitors and beyond.