Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., the largest chain of family-oriented indoor waterpark resorts is now the only national hotel chain to achieve Green Seal Certification for the lodging portion of its operations. Great Wolf Resorts, with 12 locations throughout the U.S., focuses on family vacation destinations the generally feature 300 – 600 rooms and a large indoor entertainment area measuring 40,000 – 100,000 square feet.
“We believe green tourism is the most important travel trend of our lifetime, and we wanted to do the right thing by taking a leadership position on this,” said Kim Schaefer, chief executive officer of Great Wolf Resorts. “It’s nice to be recognized as the first national hotel chain to achieve Green Seal Certification, yet more importantly, it’s gratifying to know we’re doing our part to create a sustainable tourism product for lots of families and generations to come.”
Setting a standard
Green Seal, a 20-year-old independent non-profit with a mission of helping create a more sustainable world, created a rigorous, science-based environmental standard that includes nearly three dozen criteria for lodging operations to follow. Meeting these criteria qualifies for Green Seal certification and demonstrates a commitment to environmental responsibility.
In the process of making the necessary changes to achieve certification, Great Wolf realized the requirements addressed only the lodging portion of its business. With the Green Seal serving as a platform from which to grow its commitment, Great Wolf chose to examine its entire operation in an effort for even greater environmental accountability. By setting guidelines for greener waterparks, restaurants, and all amenities offered in its chain of resorts, Project Green Wolf was born (when clicking this link, you may want to have your audio turned down or off).
The evolution of the Green Wolf
The process of creating Project Green Wolf involved revising nearly every page of the company’s operational procedures and redefining its traditional approach to doing business. The result was not only a greener operation, but a leaner one as well. Says Mark Petruzzi, “Going green is not only achievable, as evidenced by Great Wolf Resorts, but it makes good business sense and can actually save lodging properties money while being more environmentally responsible.”
Each property has its own specific expression of the Green Wolf, but common key areas are addressed company-wide, incorporating and enhancing Green Seal criteria to its entire operation:
- Management of fresh water resources
Water conservation efforts include low-flow toilets, showers, and faucets; waterless urinals; recycling of most of the water used in the laundry facilities; guest linen recycling; and using state-of-the-art pool filtration allowing recycling of most of the water used in the waterpark facilities.
- Waste management, recycling, and reuse
Whenever possible, Great Wolf works with local waste facilities to compost food scrapes and to donate unused food items to local charities. Recycling bins are available in all public and employee areas as well as in guest rooms.
- Energy efficiency
Great Wolf uses Energy Star appliances, the most efficient heating and ventilation equipment available, and energy efficient lighting.
- Environmental and social responsibility
Great Wolf works with all its vendors to help insure all purchased items are environmentaly sensitive. All paper products are post-consumer recycled, dish washing and laundry detergents are biodegradable, and paint is low VOC.
An environmental education program is provided for younger visitors, developed in partnership with National Geographic Kids, complete with activity and learning areas, a Green Wolf TV channel, and interactive web content.
Great Wolf Resorts understood that achieving Green Seal Certification was just the beginning of what it could do to make its Resorts more sustainable and environmentally friendly. By making the effort to truly incorporate these concepts of sustainability in its entire operation, Great Wolf demonstrates how a business can internalize its commitment and not only reduce its footprint, but save money and better serve its customers in the process – the triple bottom line.
Even businesses whose inherent business model may not lend itself immediately to the idea of “sustainability” can take a lesson. The Green Wolf is ready to help show the way.