After enacting series of sustainability initiatives, Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park has reduced solid waste by 44 percent, water usage has dropped 19 percent and electricity use is down 18 percent since 2010.
In that same time period, the California resort says sustainably sourced food is up 19 percent and recycling is up 100 percent.
The single-biggest development undertaken by Furnace Creek operator Xanterra Parks & Resorts has been the installation of a five-acre, 1 MW solar photovoltaic system. The system went active in June 2008 and now generates more than one-third of the total annual electricity needs of Xanterra’s Death Valley operations, including the historic Inn at Furnace Creek, Ranch at Furnace Creek, Furnace Creek Golf Course, employee offices and housing.
Furnace Creek and its namesake resort exist in their location because natural spring water flows from nearby mountain ranges to create an oasis. By routing the water from one point to others, the resort’s goal is to use the same molecules of water for several purposes. The spring-fed water is first used at the Inn to irrigate gardens and supply the swimming pool, which was designed with a flow-through system that minimizes chemical use. That water then continues downhill to the Ranch where it fills the ponds on the golf course, providing habitat for local and migratory wildlife. The water in the ponds then irrigates the golf course.
The resort’s sustainable cuisine program follows guidelines developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch protocol. Locally sourced items include dates, pistachios, almonds and some beer and soda products.
Other initiatives include:
- Replacing the 125-ton chiller and guest room fan units at the Inn and added a building management system that will help keep interior space at optimal cooling levels at all times
- Replacing windows at the Inn with high-efficiency, double-pane, gas-filled windows and doors, significantly reducing heat gain in public spaces and guest rooms.
- Diverting from landfill more than 50 percent of construction and demolition wastes generated during a 2011-12 remodel and renovation.
- Producing biodiesel from waste vegetable oil to fuel the golf course maintenance mowers.
- Using natural dye on the golf course during the winter on brown, dormant Bermuda grass to reduce watering.
- Participating in a program called Demand Bidding with Southern California Edison to decrease electrical consumption during peak demand periods.
- Discontinuing use of lights at the Inn tennis court.
- Replacing (in process of) exterior lighting with “night-sky friendly” lighting, limiting light pollution in the park.
- Reducing pesticide usage on the golf course by 84 percent.
- Replacing golf course irrigation motors with new, premium-efficiency variable-frequency drive motors.
- Conducting a complete lighting inventory and replaced over 300 incandescent bulbs with energy efficient CFL or LED.
- Encouraging guests to reuse their towels and linens when staying multiple nights.
- Joining the “Choose to be Straw Free” initiative where guests receive straws only on request.