The Global Sustainable Tourism Council

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is recognized by the United Nations as one of the world’s foremost organization in promoting the adoption of sustainable tourism practices. In July of 2012, Jackson Hole was recognized as a global leader in sustainable tourism as our community was selected as one of only six destinations on earth that will take part in a pilot program that will guide the world’s efforts to strive for sustainable practices in destination travel and beyond.

Scroll down to read more about the sustainable efforts going on around Jackson Hole.

National Parks – where it all began

It has been called America’s best idea, the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 marked the beginning of the modern conservation movement and Jackson Hole has remained at the forefront ever since. In 1912, in response to pressures on the Jackson Hole elk population, local ranchers pooled resources and helped create the National Elk Refuge. Grand Teton National Park followed in 1929 and was greatly expanded in 1950, with the unprecedented privately funded preservation and donation of land, led by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Both parks, combined with millions of acres of National Forest Lands, including the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee Forests, put Jackson Hole at the epicenter of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest intact ecosystem in the continental U.S.

Spirit of Stewardship – a Jackson Hole Legacy

The spirit of stewardship that Jackson Hole was endowed with continues to thrive as the community worked together in 2009 to pass legislation that provides Wild and Scenic status to 387 miles of local rivers and streams – more miles of protected waterways than any other county in the nation. In the same year residents joined with neighboring counties to help protect the Wyoming Range, which borders the valley to the south.

Jackson Hole takes pride in its Legacy of conservation and the preservation and protection of the ecosystem attracts countless visitors from around the world. Local government, federal agencies, private industry, and non-governmental organizations have developed and implemented plans and policies for ensuring that the environment and operations conform to sustainability regulations and principles. Some highlights are listed below and the community is tirelessly working towards more, including leading the Rocky Mountain region for the most TripAdvisor Green Leaders and certifying over 80 businesses through our local sustainability program.  For information on our local sustainability collaborative program, please visit Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program.

Xanterra Parks and Resorts Environmental Efforts in Yellowstone National Park

“When people actively and thoughtfully protect and preserve our planet’s beautiful places, they have made a moral investment in that destination’s continued success… When our guests and our employees start making lifestyle changes because of the initiatives they undertake or observe at our parks and resorts, then we will know that we have been truly successful.”
– Andy Todd, CEO, Xanterra, Inc.

Xanterras’s Parks and Resorts believe that there are more complex tasks ahead than that of reaching an ecological balance between business and the natural environment. They are a company based upon values that reflect an environmental ethic and social conscience – for the long term. They are taking the lead in this call and are implementing comprehensive environmental initiatives. Xanterra’s business practices exemplify environmental stewardship, and a desire to protect and preserve the public lands on which we operate. Below is a list of Xanterra’s environmental initiatives at Yellowstone National Park. Click on any topic to learn more.

  • Solid Waste Management & Recycling
  • Energy & Water Conservation
  • Green Building
  • Transportation
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
  • Green Retail
  • Sustainable Cuisine
  • Guest & Employee Education

Teton County & the Town of Jackson

Jackson Hole’s GSTC application had 25 different signatures from all three sectors to prove their commitment to sustainability in the region. Environmental efforts around Teton County include:

  • The Town of Jackson and Teton County passed a resolution in 2006 to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions by 10% by 2010 (this was accomplished).  Subsequently, the County and the local energy cooperative set a goal of reducing energy usage and carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.  The Town has set a goal of reducing energy usage by 40% by 2020.  The Town and County governments now purchase 100% of their power from renewable sources
  • Energy Mitigation Program: based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, in which commercial and residential construction is encouraged to build with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • All new construction of county facilities must meet LEED standards.
  • In the last 4 years Teton County has secured nearly $2.5 million in grant funding to conduct energy efficiency retrofits throughout county owned facilities. Work has included lighting retrofits, insulation, window and door replacement and sealing, replacement of heating and cooling systems and other efforts to make facilities more energy efficient thereby saving taxpayers money and reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.
  • The largest Solar Array in Wyoming began producing energy during the past year.
  • The Town and County adopted a zero waste resolution in 2014 and developed a Zero Waste Plan with an initial goal of a 60% diversion of waste from the landfill by 2030

Old Bill’s Fun Run

This unique event combines a running race with a costume contest and a community celebration that has raised over $121 million for local non-profits in the last 19 years. The organizations supported help with the preservation of Jackson Hole, making it a vibrant, sustainable place to live.  This year the one day event raised over $8 million and received high marks for its minimal carbon footprint; it received the Council for Responsible Sport’s Silver level of certification as a sustainable event.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has set a high environmental standard for ski resorts of any size in North America by developing an ISO 14001 registered Environmental Management System (EMS) and maintaining this program under external review by KPMG for over 6 years.

In terms of audited resort-level objectives, each year every department must submit meaningful, attainable and measurable environmental goals to the JHMR Environmental Coordinator and report progress on previous goals.  The goals must fulfill National Ski Areas Association Sustainable Slopes commitments regarding:

  • Planning design and construction
  • Water quality and conservation
  • Energy conservation and reduced carbon emissions
  • Waste reduction and recycling
  • Wildlife habitat conservation
  • Air quality/transportation
  • Visual quality
  • Education and outreach

The overall quantitative goals for the JHMR’s EMS involve a 10% reduction by 2015 of electricity, fuel, and propane use, domestic water consumption, and waste production relative to a 2009 baseline on an intensity (per guest visit) basis.  JHMR has concentrated on its electricity, fuel and propane consumption goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via an emissions inventory as well as an Inventory Management Plan (IMP).

First, in 2011 JHMR prepared a greenhouse gas inventory following The Climate Registry’s General Reporting Protocol.  This inventory expanded on data already tracked in the EMS to include greater resolution in electricity and propane consumption, fuel consumption by different vehicle types, and other emissions such as refrigerant use.

Second, JHMR is operationalizing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with an IMP conforming to internationally accepted, auditable ISO 14064-1 standards.  JHMR may be the only ski area in the country that has taken this step of developing an actionable IMP.  The IMP moves beyond counting emissions to reducing emissions via a critical path timeline of projects including:

  • LED lighting retrofits
  • Alternative solutions for snowmelt and building space heating
  • Additional programmable controls for heaters in buildings, lift terminals and lift shacks
  • Improved vehicle emissions, utilizing alternative fuels such as biodiesel and waste vegetable oil fuel manufacturing and vehicle retrofits
  • Boiler improvements to increase control of building space heating

Recent awards and achievements

  • Two-time recipient of NSAA’s Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence. The award, which JHMR first received in 1995, and then again in 2011, represents the highest honor of environmental achievement in the ski industry.
  • Achieving 1st place for the last three years in a row for participation in the Friends of Pathways Commuter Choice Challenge program.
  • Recipient of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce “Green to Green” award in October 2012, for the business that has shown a commitment to the environment by prescribing to innovative and effective environmentally conscious business practices.
  • JHMR restaurants The Deck and Couloir Restaurant and Bar have joined the network 1% for the Planet, a global network of businesses that invest at least 1% of their sales in organizations focused on sustainability.

JHMR is also the leading participant in the National Ski Areas Climate Challenge where their work over the last few years has set the framework for this initiative. These last few months JHMR has encouraged participation and has worked with other ski areas to provide best practices, annual reporting, resource guides and training to help them reduce their environmental impact. With the addition of the Climate Challenge, JHMR is taking the next steps to inspire action and create a streamlined process for showing significant and measurable progress in the ski industry.

Stay tuned. There is more happening every day…..