Greening the National Parks: Environmental Achievement Awards Highlight Sustainable Design, Energy-Efficiency, and Recycling
To encourage low-impact, eco-friendly operations, the National Park Service presents Environmental Achievement Awards each year to parks and concession companies that have excelled in incorporating high environmental standards into their operations. The award criteria emphasize sustainable design as well as systems and programs promoting energy efficiency, water conservation, materials recycling, and other earth-friendly, cost-saving features.
Park Service Director Mary Bomar congratulated the winners for their progress towards sustainable design, recycling, and energy efficiency. “Their accomplishments provide a roadmap for success in environmental leadership as we prepare for the NPS Centennial in 2016.”
Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center Design Team won an Environmental Achievement Award for the park’s new $9.8 million Destination Center, which is situated at Milepost 384 on the parkway about eight miles east of downtown Asheville, North Carolina. The distinctive-looking building (see accompanying photo), which was constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications standards, has a passive solar heating and cooling system that incorporates a “green” roof, radiant floor heating, and related energy-efficient features. Abundant windows provide daylighting that minimizes the need for electrical lights. Energy savings were expected to be 40% in the first year.
The Environmental Achievement Award presented to Yosemite National Park Curry Village Design Team was in recognition of the sustainable design features of the new employee housing complex for Curry Village (which implements Yosemite Valley Plan replacement of facilities destroyed in the 1997 flood). The design of the new complex incorporates exemplary site selection, mechanical systems, lighting, and water efficiency features.
Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts received its award for the recycling programs it operates at two of the park system’s flagship parks – Yellowstone and Yosemite. In 2007 the programs diverted approximately 1,589 tons of materials from the solid waste streams of the two parks. Delaware North uses GreenPath®, its Environmental Management System (EMS), to provide recycling training for more than 2,400 seasonal employee-associates each year.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts was recognized for the planning and construction of a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic system in Death Valley National Park. The system will generate more than one-third of the electricity that Xanterra needs for its operations at Death Valley while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent.
The Honorable Mention winners for 2007 were:
• The transit implementation team from Glacier National Park;
• The sustainability program from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve;
• The recycling and green purchasing program from Big Bend Resorts, LLC (at Big Bend National Park); and
• The food kiosk construction project from Guest Services, Inc. (at National Mall and Memorial Parks).
Hearty Traveler congratulations to the winning parks and concessioners. It’s great to see them putting sustainable earth principles into action.