Green Initiatives

Green Initiatives

SOLAR THERMAL PANELS on the roof of the Fudge Shop are filled with an organic coolant that absorbs the heat of the sun. The super-heated coolant flows to the basement where a heat exchanger transfers that heat to the building’s water heater. The super-heated coolant is also pumped through flexible tubing attached to the bottom of the floor to supply radiant heat for the building.

BAMBOO FLOORS were used in the Fudge Shop because bamboo is a sustainable product. It is comparable to hardwood in look, long-term maintenance and installation. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that renews itself every three years and cultivating bamboo does not rely on the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

SKYLIGHTS fill the Fudge Shop with natural light. Because the building is used mostly during the day, the staff rarely needs to turn on the electric lights. When needed, COMPACT FLUORECENT light bulbs consume 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than old fashioned incandescent bulbs.

RAIN BARRELS collect runoff from the roof. Reclaimed water can be used to irrigate the butterfly garden and saves the well water for human use.

Producing Renewable Energy

An array of PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS located beyond the animal habitats and another bank of PV cells on the roof of the Fudge Shop produce electricity that is fed directly into the power grid.

In 2012, Grandfather’s solar panels generated 11,746 KwH of electricity and mitigated 8.3 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The electricity generated here last year would power an average American home for 10 months and offset the CO2 emissions from 1.7 vehicles a year.

The Nature Museum & Restaurant

Food prepared and sold at Mildred’s Grill in the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum is served using 100 percent compostable and BIODEGRADABLE plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives and take out containers.

The restaurant also RECYCLES ITS FRYER OIL which is then used to create biodiesel fuel.

Guests can find RECYCLING bins for aluminum and plastic in different locations around the park. In addition, the gift shops and restaurant are set up to recycle the cardboard boxes that come through their doors.

Two DESTRATIFICATION FANS were installed high up in the Museum’s cathedral ceilings to reduce the layering of air that occurs when heat rises in a building. The fans move the warm air down for a more even floor to ceiling temperature. This reduces energy use and cost, eliminates hot and cold spots, and increases visitors’ personal comfort while in the building.

Serving Bird-Friendly Coffee

Grandfather Mountain also serves its own house blend of organic, shade-grown coffee.

We’ve all known since kindergarten that birds fly south for the winter, but most of us never realized that migratory birds flock to the coffee plantations of Central and South America. Coffee is a mid-story shrub that grows in the shade of the high tree canopy. Those trees offer birds food, shelter, clean water and a balanced ecosystem in which to thrive.

Growers of higher-yield, sun coffee varieties started clear-cutting the forest, destroying the habitat for migratory birds and creating “monocultures” that require more pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The result has been a 20 percent decline in migratory bird populations over the last 10 years.

By serving only bird-friendly, shade-grown coffee, Grandfather Mountain is helping to provide an economic incentive to preserve habitat for migratory bird populations.

Other Sustainable Practices

Other steps toward making Grandfather greener involved replacing incandescent light bulbs with COMPACT FLUORECENT bulbs and converting to an energy efficient LED LIGHTING PLAN in the Nature Museum bathrooms.


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  • Everyone needs to wash their spirit clean where nature heals and gives strength to both body and soul. Grandfather Mountain has been a place that has helped me reconnect with nature every time I hike his trails. I can feel him whispering to me each visit, or while I'm just sitting on the side of the mountain seeking nothing but a cool breeze and the quiet he offers. I raised my two children on those trails, teaching them we are just caretakers of this wonderful place and it must be protected for the generations that follow. This place is special and GM never lets me down. We must continue to protect this sacred place and be sure that 100 years from now, all his beauty remains the same for those who follow.
    Greensboro, NC
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