Nantahala Outdoor Center Gatlinburg, Eastern Tennessee’s definitive resource for outdoor trip planning, has been certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council, the leading and most comprehensive third-party designation for green building. NOC Gatlinburg, located adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the first LEED retail and family attraction of its kind in the entire two-state Smokies gateway region.
NOC opened its retail and adventure center in the spring of 2010, in Gatlinburg, Tenn., one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Southeast. A $4 million project, NOC Gatlinburg is a groundbreaking initiative, working with the City of Gatlinburg to create a closer connection to the National Park while deepening environmentally responsible practices throughout the city.
NOC Gatlinburg provides whitewater rafting and other guided trips; in-store activities like a 30 foot climbing wall and swinging rope bridge; as well as a comprehensive selection of outdoor gear, apparel and footwear for outdoor enthusiasts and casual users.
“We provide value for children and adults alike, from our in-store play areas for kids, to our high adventure rafting trips, to our comfortable and technical gear and apparel for all ages,” says General Manager Adam Metzger. “Our goal is to share ways for people to play outside, while teaching them that taking care of the great outdoors is the first step. The measures taken for LEED certification are vital for this purpose.”
When store construction began in 2009 NOC took over an existing building, previously the Open Hearth Restaurant, in order to preserve a community cornerstone while initiating green measures in the process of expanding the business. Steps toward achieving LEED certification involved extensive measures in construction and renovation including:
- Using an existing building and repurposing existing structural materials to reduce waste.
- Repurposing of materials salvaged from other area buildings, saving thousands of pounds of materials from local junkyards.
- Locally-sourcing any new materials needed, reducing the transportation impact of fuel and air emissions.
- Reducing water use by 30% with the exclusive use of low-flow toilets and sinks.
- Installing water efficient, low-erosion landscaping to protect the community and National Park boundaries.
- Exclusive use of low-VOC paints, sealants, coatings and floor systems.
- Drastically cutting electricity use by maximizing natural lighting.
- Creating an official stop along the city’s public transit line in the front of the store.
- Supporting alternative commuting efforts with the installation of secure storage, changing rooms and showers for staff biking, hiking or running to work.
- Installing 70% of building equipment and appliances that are Energy Star approved.
- Supporting the generation of renewable energy by offsetting 568,449 lbs of CO2 with the purchase of 518,568 kWh of renewable energy credits.
NOC’s mission of “excellence in outdoor adventures” is only possible if we not only promote recreation in the outdoors, but preserve and protect the outdoors as well,” says Bacon. “By committing ourselves to a green culture, including LEED building measures, we strive to promote environmental responsibility so we can continue to share the joys and benefits of outdoor recreation with many future generations.”