Grandfather’s Green Initiative

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, 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 2011, Grandfather’s solar panels generated 27,300 KwH of electricity and mitigated 28,439 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The electricity generated here would power two average North Carolina households per year and offset the CO2 emissions of one and two thirds cars per 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.