Grandfather Mountain becomes first state attraction certified for the NC GreenTravel Initiative

Grandfather Mountain today became the first attraction to join and become certified to the NC GreenTravel Initiative, a program that recognizes state travel-related businesses that employ healthy environmental practices.

The N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach – in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University and the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development in the N.C. Department of Commerce – launched the NC GreenTravel Initiative earlier this year to spotlight the state’s commitment to sustainable practices and to recognize businesses that have integrated greener practices into their daily routine.

“Grandfather Mountain, a signature North Carolina landmark, has been a premier wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve for decades,” said Mary Penny Thompson, chief deputy secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “We recognize the strong conservation ethic at the natural attraction, endowed by its property owners many years ago, as well as its environmental commitment and leadership, as it becomes our first attraction in the NC GreenTravel Initiative.”

To date, 23 other entities have been certified through the NC GreenTravel Initiative. Grandfather Mountain, located in Linville, qualified for recognition through the program because of its green practices, which include:
Generating its own green power through an array of photovoltaic cells. These cells produce seven kilowatts of electricity per month that is sold directly to the power grid.

Using solar thermal panels to heat the water and supply radiant heat in Grandfather’s Fudge Shop. The shop also features renewable bamboo flooring and skylight for natural lighting. Rain barrels collect runoff from the roof and the reclaimed water is used to water the butterfly garden.

Using 100 percent compostable and biodegradable plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives and take-out container in its Nature Museum Restaurant. Recycling bins for aluminum and plastic can also be found in different locations throughout the park.

“The state wanted to take the lead in establishing criteria and rating the green practices of businesses in the North Carolina travel industry so that consumers would know a business qualifies as green,” said Catherine Morton, director for Mission at the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Travelers want to spend their money on things they know to be sustainable.”

Businesses seeking recognition by the NC GreenTravel Initiative submit an online application. The application features categories related to recycling, energy management, water conservation and other sustainable actions, along with an associated score. Once points are tallied, the business is awarded recognition on one of three levels based on its overall score.

Applicants recognized by the NC GreenTravel Initiative receive a wall certificate and door decal identifying them as members of the NC GreenTravel community. They will also be listed as a sustainable travel business on the NC GreenTravel website at

For information about the program, contact Tom Rhodes, NC GreenTravel program coordinator, at or 919-707-8140; or Alex Naar, director of sustainable tourism outreach at ECU, at or 252-737-1346.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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