Sustainable Buildings

Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) has been a world leader in protecting resources for current and future generations. The NPS has preserved many of the country’s greatest natural and cultural treasures, and in the process, been a model of resource management. NPS buildings play a critical role in the operation of parks and the visitor experience. Now, the NPS faces a new challenge as it seeks to ensure that its facility stewardship reflects the current mandates and requirements for sustainability.

The SOCC’s Sustainable Buildings Program is responsible for developing Servicewide policy and programs aimed at minimizing the impacts of buildings on the environment, improving utility metering, and developing strategies for integrating sustainability into the operations and maintenance of historical structures. As stated in the draft Sustainable Buildings Implementation Plan (SBIP), the NPS Vision regarding Sustainable Buildings is: 

The National Park Service will be a national leader in its staff and organizational commitment to, and adoption of, the highest achievable sustainable principles and practices. In doing so, the NPS will meet the requirements in the DOI Sustainable Buildings Implementation Plan, Executive Order 13423, Executive Order 13514, Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and all other Federal sustainability regulations and future Federal sustainability guidance.

The key elements of the Sustainable Buildings Program include:

NPS Building Portfolio
Type Count Quantity (sq. ft.)
Buildings 22,597 41,583,534
Housing 5,115 8,453,379
Total 27,712 50,036,913
Source: FY10 yearend data; Status=Operating, OPER/OBSO, Excess, Inactive

Sustainable Buildings Highlights

    A multitude of sustainability initiatives are taking place throughout the National Park Service, including green design building initiatives. For a listing of NPS Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings, including those listed below, click here. For more information about the LEED certification system, visit the U.S. Green Building Council website.

    Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska: Eielson Visitor Center

    Eielson Visitor Center ExteriorEielson Visitor Center Exterior
    Source: NPS photo / Kent Miller

    The Eielson Visitor Center at Denali National Park and Preserve is one example of recent success for environmental design. The facility is a low-profile building that blends into the tundra landscape, uses a green roof made from tundra mats salvaged from early site construction, but also camouflages the roof deck, and assists in storm water run-off reduction and thermal energy conservation. The building also uses renewable energy in the form of a hybrid propane generator system with photo-voltaic panels, small hydroelectric system and a battery bank.  This was the first LEED Platinum building in the National Park Service.

    More details can be found here.

    Lassen Volcanic National Park, California: Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center

    LEED Visitor Center ExteriorLEED Visitor Center Energy Efficient Lighting
    Source: NPS photo

    The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at Lassen Volcanic National Park achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2008.  An interactive eTour can be accessed here. For a visitor center overview, click here