With the tallest mountain in North America as inspiration, you have to think big. And that’s what the staff at Denali did as they planned to replace an aging visitor center. "From the very start, the park’s goal was to earn the highest possible LEED rating,” said deputy superintendent Elwood Lynn, referring to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. The result: a next generation, super-sustainable building, that took home the platinum. Opened in 2008, the new Eielson Visitor Center takes the spirit and practice of conservation to new heights – very much like the mountain it overlooks. The building is off the power grid, its floors used to be tires, and its information desk is made of wheat-straw, a rapidly renewable plant. The railings and steel beams from the old building support the new one, keeping more than 75 percent of construction waste out of a landfill. Water-conscious fixtures and native plants round out this green giant – which is nestled in to the land to give center stage to the tundra and mountain views.
Today, the National Park Service is building green with our world and our children’s future in mind – making America’s Best Idea even better.