Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) has been charged with protecting our country’s national parks for generations to come. Since the push to “go green” has become an increasing part of public consciousness in recent years, so too has the NPS expanded its efforts in that arena. From locally produced food served in park restaurants to cutting edge energy conservation, the NPS has many sustainable practices in place.
Now, the NPS has gained its first “net zero” visitor center, the Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center at the King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California. Check out these other National Park Service green buildings—
The visitor center has been awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification (the highest) for its design. LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. In addition to this building, the NPS has several other LEED certified buildings.
The King Gillette visitor center is “net zero site energy,” meaning it produces and exports at least as much renewable energy as the total energy it imports and uses in a year. The building boasts a mix of both new technology and older insights into green building: photovoltaic panels, LED lighting, geothermal heating and cooling, as well as a use of natural light and green building materials. The visitor center’s energy production and consumption can be monitored online.
The Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center is in alignment with the Park Service’s green parks plan, which encourages units of the park system to reduce carbon emissions and use sustainable management. Kate Kuykendall, a NPS spokesperson, said, “It’s really about walking the walk since our entire agency is about protecting national resources.”
Located in northwest Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the United States. The area has a long history of human occupation and contains many significant historic and prehistoric sites and a Native American history. The national recreation area actually is made up of many parks and locations, from the beaches of Malibu to the peaks of the mountain range and is only a hop, skip, and jump from Los Angeles, making it the perfect location for a family vacation or a quick outing on a business trip.