|Solar panels line a bathroom roof at Devil's Garden campground, Arches National Park, Utah.|
While the park service is famed for the wild and scenic landscapes it protects - totaling over 84,000,000 acres - the NPS also manages the largest number of structures of any civilian agency in the federal government. All told, the NPS portfolio of 397 national parks includes more than 67,000 structures with more than 50 million square feet of constructed space and more than 3,000 utility systems. Each year, 2.6 billion gallons of water are consumed in national parks, and the service's annual energy costs average $44 million.
The Green Parks Plan identifies nine strategic goals:
- Continuously Improve Environmental Performance: meeting and exceeding the requirements of all applicable environmental laws
- Be Climate Friendly and Climate Ready: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting facilities identified as at risk from climate change
- Be Energy Smart: improving facility energy performance and increasing reliance on renewable energy
- Be Water Wise: improving facility water use efficiency
- Green Our Rides: transforming the NPS fleet of vehicles and adopting greener transportation methods
- Buy Green and Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: purchasing environmentally friendly products and increasing waste diversion and recycling
- Preserve Outdoor Values:minimizing the impact of facility operations on the external environment
- Adopt Best Practices:adopting sustainable best practices in all facility operations
- Foster Sustainability Beyond Our Boundaries:engaging visitors about sustainability and inviting their participation
What does the Green Parks Plan mean? For the park service, it may lead to improved sustainability and lower operating costs. For greentech businesses, it may mean opportunities to install energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, or to sell greener vehicles. For park visitors, it should mean cleaner air and water, and more opportunities to participate in sustainability. Expect the park service to release periodic updates on its progress toward achieving the nine goals of the Green Parks Plan.