Since 2008, the National Park Service has decreased emissions from on-site fossil fuel combustion and electricity consumption from the grid by 13 percent.
That was just one example of how the service is working to meet the goals of its Our Green Park Plan, released a year ago. On Monday, the Park Service released a recap of its efforts in the first year.
The plan focuses on sustainable management of national parks and key environmental issues, ranging from reducing energy and water consumption to adopting greener transportation methods to lowering emissions of greenhouse gases, said a Park Service news release.
“The Green Parks Plan is comprehensive. It makes us look at how we can conserve energy and increase our reliance on renewable energy, improve water use efficiency, limit the waste we generate, mitigate the effects of climate change, change what we buy and how we manage facilities,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in the release. “Perhaps most importantly, it makes us think about how to integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of our operations. And over the past year we’ve done just that.”
The decrease in fossil fuel combustion and eletricity usage indicates the Park Service is on track toward the goal of reducing these emissions by 35 percent by 2020.
Among other examples cited in the news release:
• Decreased greenhouse gas emissions from indirect emission sources such as commuter travel and off-site wastewater treatment by 7 percent. This is on track toward the goal of reducing these emissions by 10 percent by 2020.
• Diverted 92 percent of construction and demolition waste. This exceeds the goal of diverting 50 percent of annual solid waste from landfills through recycling and other practices.
Among accomplishments at specific parks were:
• Denali National Park has partnered with a recycling company in Fairbanks, Alaska, to break down glass from the park’s recycling stream to make glass tile and to liquefy plastics for energy recovery.
• Zion National Park, in coordination with the Zion Natural History Association and Xanterra Concessions, now provides free Zion Spring Water at filling stations in high visitor use areas throughout the park. The stations are meant to encourage visitors to use reusable water bottles and eliminated the sale of bottled water within the park. This effort has resulted in the elimination of more than 5,000 pounds of plastic water bottlesbeing sold and subsequently thrown out or recycled. There was a 78 percent increase in reusable water bottles sold through park partners.