Sustainability at Grandfather
Flourishing for eons past. And with your help, far into the future.
Just as there’s no one way to enjoy a mountain, there’s also no one way to protect it. With this in mind, the people of Grandfather Mountain engage in many environmentally conscious projects on the mountain and off, and encourage others to do the same. You’ll see these efforts in many places during your visit—but mostly, we hope that you’ll be inspired by the splendor they’re helping to preserve.
The Earth-friendly Fudge Shop
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, LED light bulbs consume up to 80 percent less energy and can last 20 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, on the roof of the Fudge Shop and on the roof of the Nature Museum produce electricity that is fed directly into the power grid.
In 2017 alone, Grandfather’s solar panels generated 50,000 KwH of electricity and mitigated approximately 60,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The electricity generated here would power four average North Carolina households per year and offset the CO2 emissions of five cars per year.
The Nature Museum & Restaurant
Mildred’s Grill in the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum is working toward using 100-percent compostable and BIODEGRADABLE plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives and takeout 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 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.
EV Charging Stations
Many visitors to Grandfather Mountain describe their experience as “energizing.” Those with electric vehicles can now take that literally.
In 2021, Grandfather Mountain installed two ChargePoint electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
With one located at the park’s Entrance Gate and the other near its Nature Museum, each able to service two vehicles at once, Grandfather Mountain now offers the first public EV charging stations in Avery County, N.C.
The stations come courtesy of a grant from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
Other Sustainable Practices
- Refillable water bottle station
- Recycling containers throughout the park
- Energy-efficient HVAC system at the Nature Museum
- Using CA certified small equipment
- Education initiatives and signage at the Fudge Shop
- Sustainability in mind for future construction projects
- Reusable cup program for employees