Environmental Stewardship at Biltmore
George Vanderbilt’s vision for Biltmore was twofold: a place where he could relax and entertain friends and family, as well as a self-sustaining estate that would nurture the land and its resources for generations to come. The nation’s first scientific forestry management program was born of this vision, as was the Vanderbilt family focus on the environment. This focus continues today via the ongoing research and implementation of sustainability initiatives at Biltmore.
Biltmore’s sustainability efforts have been honored with multiple awards, including the 2008 Triple Bottom Line Award from Sustainable North Carolina. This award recognizes for-profit businesses that demonstrate the successful integration of all three aspects of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic.
Biltmore’s Employee CSR teams (formerly known as Employee Green teams) include 30+ members across multiple departments. Encouraging company-wide participation, these teams work together to advocate and drive sustainability initiatives. Members also volunteer their time to support the work of Asheville-based sustainability and environmental groups.
From 2011 through 2012, Biltmore installed a solar panel system that offsets up to 20% of the estate’s energy needs. This 9-acre, 1.7-megawatt system is comprised of 5,000 solar panels and uses advanced technology that ensures performance even on cloudy days.
Prior to installing energy-efficient, longer-lasting LED bulbs throughout Biltmore House, our Engineering and Museum Services teams worked together to find replacements that best matched the color, brightness, and shape of each room’s original incandescent Edison bulbs.
Biltmore’s Food & Beverage team implemented a process to recycle the estate’s used fryer oil into biodiesel for estate farming and horticultural operations use.
Biltmore is a Certified Tree Farm, with nearly 5,000 acres of forest managed by registered consulting NC forester Blair Bishop under a scientific forestry management plan. Managed forests support carbon sequestration which lessens the impact of climate change.
Optimizing Forest Health
Our horticultural team is engaged in the following efforts to protect our region’s endangered tree species:
- Partnering with the American Chestnut Foundation to breed a blight-resistant species of Chestnut tree
- Pre-treating Hemlock trees to prevent wooley adelgid infestation
Monarch Butterfly Migration Support
To encourage growth in threatened Monarch butterfly populations, our Landscaping teams planted milkweed across the estate. This provides vital habitat for the butterflies as they pass through our region on their yearly migration toward Mexico. The only plant on which female Monarchs will lay eggs, milkweed is essential to the survival of the species.
Employing best management practices to prevent silt and runoff into waterways, our Agricultural and Forestry Operations teams earned the 1998 River Friendly Farmer Award from the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation Service.
Field to Table Program
Biltmore’s Field to Table Program focuses on growing—and finding—the best, freshest foods for estate restaurants. Eggs from free-range hens, meat (beef, lamb, pork) from livestock raised free of growth hormones and growth-promoting antibiotics, and grapes for Biltmore’s fine wines are supplied by the estate’s agricultural services. Incorporating this self-sustaining bounty into their recipes, our Culinary teams provide an exceptional dining experience for our guests.
Food & Beverage-Based Programs
In addition to sourcing produce and meat from estate and local growers, Biltmore’s Food & Beverage team is committed to the following:
- Use of recyclable and compostable, to-go containers and utensils
- Recycling of fryer oil into biodiesel for estate farming and horticultural operations use
- Composting of food waste for agricultural use, including the feeding of chickens at Biltmore’s Farmyard
Biltmore’s Winery established a cork recycling program by partnering with WidgetCo, Inc., an organization that collects corks and other post-consumer materials and “upcycles” them into unique products. Corks are collected at key locations across the estate, including the Winery’s tasting room and estate restaurants.
In addition to local sustainability efforts, Biltmore seeks to partner with such international organizations as the Clean the World Foundation. This organization collects single-use shampoos, soaps, and other personal care items to create hygiene kits for distribution to developing countries. Our staffs at The Inn and Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate are proud participants in this program dedicated to eliminating hygiene-related disease transmission.