Old Faithful Employee Residence Receives Platinum LEED Certification

A new employee residence in the Old Faithful area has received a Platinum rating under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification program.

The residence—built by concessioner Yellowstone National Park Lodges (a Xanterra Parks & Resorts operation)—is the first platinum-rated concessioner-built building in a national park. Platinum is the highest possible LEED rating, and accounts for only seven percent of all LEED-certified buildings/projects.

“This project is representative of how we emphasize sustainability in our company,” said Jim McCaleb, general manager of Yellowstone National Park Lodges in a press release. “We are creating state-of-the-art employee housing that will be in service for many years to come, while using techniques and materials that support our environmental mission and that of the National Park Service.”

The LEED program, operated and developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, has been certifying buildings since 2000.

In order for a project to receive LEED certification, it must meet particularly stringent sustainability guidelines in its site selection, water use, energy performance, building materials, environmental quality, and overall innovation.

Yellowstone National Park Lodges built the 78-unit residence as a part of their concession contract with the National Park Service. The cabins where employees were previously staying will be renovated and converted into guest accommodations.

In building the employee residence, crews adhered to a modular construction process, which minimized waste and maximized efficiency—a key process because of how swiftly Yellowstone’s climate can change. Guerdon Enterprises built the units in Boise, Idaho. They were then transported to Yellowstone National Park for assembly. Using modular construction, crews could work indoors during fall on the building as temperatures dropped and did not need to put the project on hold until the spring.

The project includes several notable facets in its design and construction:

  • At least 94 percent of construction waste was recycled instead of relocated to a landfill.
  • Workers used primarily beetle kill pine (sourced from Montana) for the trim and paneling.
  • Water usage will be reduced by 45 percent.
  • The employee residence will save more than 40 in energy use, compared to buildings of similar make/construction method.
  • The entry staircase is made of cedar reclaimed from a Montana cabin, donated by the owner in partnership with the Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Workers paid extra attention in protecting topsoil and reducing possible erosion/sedimentation.

Mosaic Architects of Helena, MT designed the employee residence. Swank Enterprises, a Montana-based company, served as general contractor. Andersen Windows donated the building’s windows, in partnership with the Yellowstone Park Foundation and NPS.

Xanterra contracted Kath Williams + Associates, a Bozeman, MT-based consultant firm, who previously worked with Xanterra/NPS officials on the employee residence built in Gardiner, MT in 2004. That residence was, incidentally, the first LEED-certified building project in Montana.

“It truly takes a team to make this happen,” said Williams in a Yellowstone National Park Lodges press release. “LEED certification, especially at the Platinum level, is impossible without the cooperation of the owner, project managers, design team and contractor. And I have the documentation to prove every step was verified and everybody involved did their part.”

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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