Ever since Delaware North Companies became the official concessionaire for Yosemite National Park in the early 1990s, the company has been driven by its passion to preserve. That passion led Delaware North to develop and adopt GreenPath®, the company’s proprietary and award-winning environmental stewardship program.The program has grown out of Delaware North’s Parks & Resorts division and now encompasses the company’s foodservice and hospitality operations at ballparks, resorts, travel destinations and state and national parks worldwide.
“Our unique approach at Yosemite National Park in the early 1990s put Delaware North at the forefront of hospitality companies with a sense of environmental awareness,” said Dennis Szefel, the company’s chief administrative officer and the framer of GreenPath.
After securing the Yosemite bid, Delaware North went right to work and soon became the first U.S. hospitality company to have the environmental management system at one of its locations registered by the standards put forth by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14001). Since then, numerous Delaware North properties have achieved the same distinction, including the corporate headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y. There, the company has worked to limit its environmental impact by purchasing green products and implementing environmentally friendly practices such as recycling and timed lighting.
In 2008, Delaware North announced it would expand its GreenPath program to all operating divisions. At the same time, the company appointed John Huey to the newly created post of director of sustainability and environmental affairs for Delaware North. Huey is tasked with overseeing the implementation of GreenPath throughout the company and ensuring the company continues to grow its environmental efforts.
Considering Delaware North operates at more than 200 locations worldwide, serving half a billion customers each year, taking GreenPath corporate-wide is no small task. Delaware North has committed itself to seeing the implementation through and focusing on environmental conservation and stewardship at each of its venues.
“It’s a significant undertaking given the scope of our operations and our many clients and site partners, but it’s the right thing to do. There are also sound business reasons – including energy efficiency – underlying the initiatives,” Szefel said.
Delaware North has already launched numerous ongoing initiatives that offer tangible evidence of its commitment to GreenPath and the environment. The company has unveiled a comprehensive recycling program at Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden, which it owns and operates. Delaware North is also in the midst of a feasibility study for additional energy conservation at the venue, which has already reduced electricity use.
At ballparks and stadiums around the country, Delaware North Sportservice, the company’s flagship division, handles food, beverage and retail services. It is working with clients on various recycling initiatives and a number of innovative approaches to reducing the carbon footprint of feeding thousands of sports fans. At Progressive Field in Cleveland, for example, Sportservice has partnered with the Cleveland Indians to use cornstarch cups for cold beverages purchased at concession stands. The company is also working with the Minnesota Twins on ways to ensure food service and retail operations are environmentally friendly at the team’s new ballpark in Minneapolis set to open in 2010.
Delaware North has also continued to bolster its environmental efforts in its parks division. The company uses as many organic and sustainable food products as possible at The Ahwhanee and other hotels and lodges in Yosemite National Park. At Asilomar State Beach & Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, Calif., kitchen waste is recycled by a local company into liquid fertilizer. Delaware North has also invested in ovens that heat up so quickly they can be turned off when not in use.
At its whole, GreenPath has garnered more than 40 “green” awards for its sustainability, recycling and other programs, including an IMEX green meetings award and 15 consecutive California Waste Reduction awards. It has also helped Delaware North stay at the forefront of its industries as a leader in environmental practice. Add up the current projects inspired by GreenPath and its numerous awards and it would be easy to call the program a success. And still, even with the accolades obtained and the objectives met, Delaware North refuses to rest on its laurels. The company and its leaders are still guided by their passion to preserve the environment and desire to make a positive difference, leaving the world a better place.
That’s a goal that can only be pursued and never truly satisfied. It’s a goal that remains at the core of the company’s business divisions as it continues to protect and preserve our natural environment.