Sustainable Architecture

Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Zion Canyon Visitor Center

Sustainable Architecture
The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “. . . development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Zion National Park’s focus on sustainable design does just that, making us a leader in the field since the late 1990’s.

Two newly constructed facilities in the park demonstrate how new and old technologies can combine to create a truly sustainable building.

The Visitor Center, designed by Park Service staff and the National
Renewable Energy Lab, opened in 2000 and includes features like cooling towers, trombe walls, daylighting, photovoltaic panels, operable windows, extra insulation, and a compact building footprint. The Zion Canyon Visitor Center has received numerous awards for its commitment to sustainability.

  • Green Building Challenge (2000)
  • American Institute of Architects' Top Ten Green Projects
  • American Society of Landscapes Architects Design Honor Award (2001)

More facts on the Visitor Center

Emergency Operations Center
Emergency Operations Center

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a facility that was designed to be both green and cost-effective. It incorporates numerous sustainable features like proper site design and orientation; partial earth sheltering, thermal massing, and light-colored roofing, solar panels and a solar hot water heater; a ground-source heat pump; solar tubes, light shelves, clerestories, and light sensors; efficient ventilation systems; and sustainable finishes, and furnishings. It did not cost any more to construct than a “standard” building, yet the park benefits from a 70% reduction in energy consumption and a 51% cost savings over a comparably-sized standard building.

Another form of sustainability is adaptive reuse - the ultimate recycling project.

Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Zion Comfort Station

Adaptive Reuse
In order to reduce waste and consumption, Zion renovated the historic Nature Center to make it more usable, efficient, stable, and accessible. A tankless water heater, efficient lighting, and increased insulation are among the sustainable features it incorperates.

Using the same process the former Visitor Center was converted to the park’s new Human History Museum and administrative headquarters. In this case adaptive reuse saved the cost of new construction, while responding to the park’s growing needs. Solar tubes, recycled furnishings, and “green” finishes and furnishings made the spaces more user-friendly and sustainable.

Last updated: September 25, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


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