National Aquarium, Baltimore is pleased to announce that they have been named the first Maryland attraction to be part of the Maryland Green Travel program. The statewide program recognizes tourism businesses committed to improving their operations in order to reduce their environmental impact.
“Increasingly both business and leisure travelers are making their travel decisions based on sustainable practices that reduce our carbon footprint,” said Margot A. Amelia, Maryland Office of Tourism Development Executive Director. “National Aquarium is taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment and we applaud those efforts.”
Maryland Green Travel was created to reduce the environmental impact of Maryland’s tourism industry. The program, developed through a partnership of the Maryland Office of Tourism, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Tourism Council in support of the Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green and Growing initiative, encourages environmentally-friendly practices in all aspects of the state’s tourism industry and promotes Maryland as a green destination to the eco-minded traveler. The program helps businesses evaluate their procedures, set goals and take specific actions towards environmental sustainability.
“National Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and that starts right here in our buildings, on our grounds and throughout our company culture,” says Laura Bankey, National Aquarium Director of Conservation. “Conservation is in everything we do from our building to the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.”
The National Aquarium has an Internal Conservation Committee (ICC) that meets regularly to discuss and implement ways to incorporate green practices within the Aquarium’s everyday activities and operations from recycling and energy efficiency to contract services and hosting green events.
Some of the many efforts made by National Aquarium include a green roof over the Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit and bleachers made from recycled materials in the Dolphin Discovery amphitheater. Locally grown produce as well as sustainable and organic foods can be found at the Harbor Market Kitchen, where disposable utensils, cups and containers are minimized and are made from compostable materials and visitors are asked to recycle and compost food waste. Green-minded souvenirs are on sale at the Aquarium gift shop. High-efficiency hand-dryers are found in the restrooms and green cleaning products are used by all departments, including custodial and biological programs.
In 2011, National Aquarium collected 20.24 tons of organic waste for compositing; diverted 45.72 tons of trash, 347 pounds of technotrash and 448 pounds of batteries from reaching landfills by recycling; recycled 1,350 gallons of waste cooking into biodiesel; recycled 26.95 tons (75.8%) of construction debris; saved 3.3 megawatts of energy; and saved 3.5 tons of solid waste by using recycled paper, vegetable-based inks and wind power to produce their Watermarks newsletter. Click here to learn more about National Aquarium's green business practices.
“We aim to be a role model for resource conservation. By continuing to make sustainable decisions as part of National Aquarium culture, we want to inspire others to follow our lead and take action at home,” said Jennifer Hamilton, chair of National Aquarium’s Internal Conservation Committee (ICC).
Being named a Maryland Green Travel partner will give National Aquarium a chance to be more energy efficient, which will reduce waste and streamlines our operation, thereby leading to lower costs and increased profits. The program teaches the best ways to advance sustainability efforts through networking opportunities with other green businesses as well as provides a road map for conserving environmental resources, such as energy and water. It will help the Aquarium support the preservation and protection of Maryland’s special and unique resources from wildlife habitats near the Chesapeake Bay.
National Aquarium was recognized by the Baltimore Business Journal in 2009 for their green practices, being named runner up for the Green Business Award and received a Maryland Green Registry Leadership award in 2011.
Click here to find more information on Maryland Green Travel.