Green Accommodations in Alberta Offer Limited Environmental Impacts

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Alberta's hospitality industry reduces its ecological footprint

All waste water is transported to a water treatment facility - an expensive process which keeps Moraine Lake clean.

Alberta's natural places offer wilderness experiences as well as recreational opportunities, however, activities often affect the environment, including waste production and a depletion of resources which occur as a result of lodging.

Many Alberta accommodations are working to minimize their ecological footprint, recognizing that travel has a definite environmental impact.

Nordegg's Aurum Lodge is a true example of eco-tourism 30-minutes east of Banff. Built in 1999 by Alan and Madeleine Ernst, every detail of the lodge reflects an environmental awareness.

Not wanting to disrupt sensitive ecology, the Ernsts placed the lodge further back from the lake, and refused to cut back the trees for an unobstructed view. The lodge's solar panels supply 70 per cent of its power needs while the interior is a healthy environment free of toxic chemicals.

Conservation "is a topic that's close to our hearts," says Alan Ernst, owner and operator of the Lodge. " For that reason, Aurum Lodge has become a true environmental project for us."

Instead of focusing on a big market, the Ernsts have zeroed in on nature-loving adults who love hiking and snowshoeing, in place of ATVs, helicopters or any other activities that damage the environment.

For their efforts, the lodge holds the top eco-rating of five green leaves from the Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating Program which rates the environmental sustainability of hotels across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Aurum Lodge also earned Travel Alberta's first Alto Award for Sustainable Tourism in 2001.

Small steps can make all the difference - which is the philosophy of Mount Engadine Lodge , nestled in Kananaskis Country.

The lodge is committed to sustainability - recycling as much material as possible. A state-of-the-art septic system, switching to cloth napkins, and a reduction in laundry services are some of the initiatives currently ongoing at Mount Engadine Lodge.

"In light of everything that's going on these days, it's so important to take any little step," says Inn keeper Chris Williams. "The next step towards sustainability is the introduction of solar energy into future development of new cabins."

Having a green attitude has earned the lodge three green leafs out of five from the Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating Program.

By taking innovative measures, Moraine Lake Lodge is assisting in maintaining the Lake Louise area pristine. The lodge has held a four green leaf rating since 2004.

Inn keeper Michael Clark says the lodge's efforts are propelled forward by an environmental stewardship committee that looks for new solutions for sustainability.

"Outside of the standard things like recycling, the lodge monitors its flow of water," says Clark. "All waste water is transported to a water treatment facility - an expensive process which keeps Moraine Lake clean."

To decrease its water use (and costs), the lodge has installed low-flow showers, taps and toilets in guest rooms, which has resulted in a drop in waste water from 15,000 to 9,000 gallons per day.

The lodge is in the process of retrofitting to low-voltage light fixtures, switching to energy-efficient fridges, and asking its suppliers to reduce packaging.

Brewster's Mountain Lodge owners, the Brewster family, have lived in Banff area since 1840. But when it comes to the environment, the lodge is focused on the future.

"With global warming and climate change becoming important subject in the media…we have the responsibility as one of Banff's founding families and a long-time resident in the park to make sure we're doing our part to sustain this," says sales manager Faye Domonkos.

Built in 1996, the lodge boasts its energy efficiency with new heating systems and aggressive recycling. A water savings program ensures laundry is done when required and energy efficient lighting is found in all guest rooms and public areas.

Brewster's Mountain Lodge has received a four leaf Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating for its sustainable efforts.

Green accommodations are not only found in Alberta's natural areas. At the Fairmont Palliser (Calgary) and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (Edmonton), volunteer 'green teams' meet once a month to develop ways to improve hotel operations, says Fairmont Environmental Affairs Manager Michelle White.

The Fairmont Palliser's green team has even joined the Calgary Zoo's parenting program and have adopted an endangered Alberta swift fox.

"The funds that the hotel have donated and continue to raise through a number of green team-driven fundraisers at the property go to support conservation and research of that particular endangered species," says White.

Additionally, both hotels employ a number of other conservation measures, including energy-efficient lighting and recycling programs.

About: With the assistance of the Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating program, Travel Alberta promotes sustainability in all aspects of its hospitality industry.

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Heather Egger
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