Zion Canyon Visitor Center


How can a building be like a Tree? Find out at Zion’s super-green visitor center!

A tree uses available resources, maintains a balance with its surroundings, and gives back to the world around it. Using nature's wisdom in the Zion Canyon Visitor Center design was a natural!

Buildings in the United States account for:

  • 65% of total electricity consumption
  • 36% of total primary energy use
  • 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions

“Green” buildings (those designed for energy efficiency and occupant health) pollute less than typical buildings and are less expensive to operate. They are safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more economical. Research shows that their occupants are happier and more productive. A policy of green development in national parks allows guests and employees to feel good about the business they support and meets goals of the National Park Service and other agencies to further protect our national treasures—our national parks. (quote from Xanterra)

The most well known of Zion’s Earth friendly endeavors is our Visitor Center. The Center was built on a previously disturbed site & utilized outdoor exhibits to take advantage of Zion’s climate thus reducing materials needed and cost. “Ecohunt” signs have been placed throughout the site so visitors can explore the buildings’ features.

Visitor Center Features

  • Solar panels provide 30% of the buildings’ power
  • 80% of the structure is lit through natural daylight
  • The most noticeable features are the cooling towers—like a big swamp cooler, they use only a minimal horse-power pump to circulate water through pads to cool air, which then naturally sinks and spills out into the lobby.
  • Landscaping & Irrigation (Outdoor shade structures & exhibits, native plants, retain existing trees to provide instant shade & aesthetic, historic ditch irrigation & river water system)
  • Thermal massing & Trombe Wall for heat retention (link on right side of page for explanation)
  • Computer-controlled energy management system
  • Insulation (structural insulated panels in roof, blown-in in walls)

Further Detail for the Professional

  • Envelope: SIP roof insulated to R-30: foam insulation in masonry wall cavities
  • Trombe wall: entire lower portion of south wall single layer of glazing in front of solid masonry wall with selective surface coating.
  • Direct gain passive solar and daylighting: south-facing windows above Trombe wall and clerestory windows high in building.
  • Electric Lighting: T-8 fluorescent and HID lighting, some task lighting, sophisticated stepped controls to benefit from daylighting.
  • Natural ventilation: Provided by low inlet windows and outlet through clerestory windows operated by energy management system.
  • Cooling towers: Innovative down-draft cooltowers satisfy cooling load remaining after cooling-load-avoidance strategies and natural ventilation.
  • Photovoltaic power: 7.2 KW (peak) roof-mounted PV system integrated into the UPS batter-backup system. (Based on Utah emission factors of 1.244 lbs. C02/Kwh)

Annual Cost Savings

$14,000 per year from a 74.4% reduction in energy use and a bonus of 310,000 lbs of CO2 emissions reduced annually! (2006 figures) Reductions include:

· 64.4% Heating

· 95.6% Cooling

· 73.6% Lighting

· 43% Plug Loads

· 91.7% Fans

Helping at Home- we’re all connected
(Saves you $'s and everyone's resources!)

Here are a few simple steps you can take back home, with little or no direct costs, that can often reduce energy costs by 10-20 percent or more.

  • Make sure that radiators, registers, and baseboards are clean and not blocked.
  • Close drapes at night to keep heat from escaping in winter.
  • Close windows & drapes during heat of day and open during cool of night in summer
  • Get an annual tune-up for the heating/cooling system.
  • Lower thermostat temperature in winter and raise in summer to save on cooling and heating costs.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperature depending on season and occupancy
  • Weather strip and caulk around windows and doors. .

Find much more at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html


Last updated: April 21, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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