July 28, 2009
CW preservation and conservation initiatives fit the green movement to a tee
Guests won’t find solar panels on the Governor’s Palace, but Colonial Williamsburg has been practicing its own form of “green” for most of its existence, preserving, restoring and conserving – long before these practices became part of the “green” movement.
Conservation and environmental stewardship date back to 1926, when John D. Rockefeller Jr. created the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and led the restoration and preservation of an entire town – Virginia’s colonial capital. Today, Colonial Williamsburg saves valuable resources and energy with conservation initiatives that include operation of a recycling center which processes glass, aluminum, plastic, wood pallets, landscape debris, paper and cardboard. In 2008, 1,450,000 pounds of material were recycled by Colonial Williamsburg, including metal, oil and grease, tires and batteries recycled by other means.
Like our 18th-century predecessors, Colonial Williamsburg employees compost plant and animal waste. The foundation’s entire bus fleet has been converted from diesel-fueled buses to clean, natural-gas-powered vehicles; three zero-emission electric-powered trucks have replaced traditional gasoline-powered trucks for facilities maintenance and landscaping. Recycling containers for plastic bottles have been placed in Merchants Square and the Historic Area.
“Our employees are committed to saving resources for the foundation – and in turn for improving the environment,” said Mark Wenger, director of facilities maintenance for Colonial Williamsburg and chairman of the foundation’s environmental committee. “As the recycling containers filled with more materials, we found that we were hauling less to the county landfill. Recycling has saved us money in landfill fees, brought in revenue from materials that can be sold to recycling businesses, and best of all – we save precious resources.”
Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Course has been a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary since 2001. The 19 interconnected ponds on the courses provide all the water necessary for irrigation, and the golf courses provide a haven for wildlife with 182 acres maintained as a natural plant community, including mixed deciduous forests, native grasses, meadow areas and freshwater wetlands. From the selection of turf grasses that require low nutrient and pesticide application to the placement of bluebird houses on the course, the Golden Horseshoe follows a stringent program of conservation and provides a beautiful greenbelt in the middle of the developing city of Williamsburg.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Resort Collection of restaurants, hotels, spa and golf club participates in a statewide program to reduce the environmental impact of Virginia’s tourism industry. This partnership between the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality awards a “Virginia Green” certification to hotels, restaurants and attractions that take voluntary actions to reduce their impact on the environment. As of June 30, four Colonial Williamsburg restaurants and the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge and conference center, Williamsburg Woodlands and Governor’s Inn have been certified Virginia Green. Certification requires initiatives such as reducing food waste, using water efficiently, eliminating the use of disposables, recycling grease, replacing light bulbs with fluorescent lighting, using high-energy heating and air conditioning, managing storm water and purchasing Energy Star computers and appliances.
In addition, since 2006, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has dedicated conservation easements protecting into perpetuity more than 310 acres of forests and wetlands along the primary access route to Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as the nation’s largest living history museum. The Colonial Williamsburg Company, a subsidiary of the Foundation, operates a Resort Collection with more than 1,000 guest rooms among five hotels including the landmark Williamsburg Inn, four historic dining taverns and six restaurants, and 66,000 square feet of conference space centered at the Williamsburg Lodge, as well as a new 20,000-square-foot spa, and the Golden Horseshoe golf courses. Each purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the Foundation’s preservation, research, and educational programs.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.colonialwilliamsburgresort.com or www.colonialwilliamsburgresort.com/golf.