The Len Foote Hike Inn celebrates the great outdoors, so naturally, it strives for complete sustainability.

“From the earliest architect’s sketches to today, everything about the Inn is designed to ensure that we’re good stewards of Mother Nature’s precious resources,” says director Eric Graves, of the LEED-certified ecotourist facility.

The unusual Inn, located just outside Dawsonville, is reachable only by a moderate five-mile hike from the top of Amicalola Falls through the Chattahoochee National Forest.

In 2016, its stakeholders began the process of converting the rustic backcountry lodge to solar energy.

“At first we were looking at 20 Kilowatt panels,” Graves says. With funding from ACE, though, he was able to more than double the size of the project to 54 Kilowatts. Now the Inn derives 70 percent of its electricity from solar energy.

The paperwork proved tricky. “We’re a nonprofit located inside a state park, so we’re an odd duck as far as business models go,” he says. “But ACE’s terms made this a no-brainer. The interest was only 1.99 percent over five years – that’s a serious selling point. That meant that we did not have to dip into our emergency fund, which was great from a budget standpoint.”

The Inn comprises 20 furnished guest rooms and serves a hot breakfast and dinner each day, family style. Around 9,000 guests visit each year. A lengthy porch is ideal for resting and surveying the breathtaking mountain views.

Backpacker magazine included the trail as one of 36 “Best American Hikes” and the Inn is included on National Geographic Traveler’s “Stay List.”

If you know a business interested in getting more information about an energy efficient loan from ACE, contact Sandy Headley at headley@aceloans.org or 678-916-8460.

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