The National Park Service manages the largest number of constructed assets of any civilian agency in the Federal Government, with more than 67,000 structures spread across 408 national parks. These structures account for more than 50 million square feet of constructed space (including visitor centers and historic structures), and more than 5 million acres of maintained landscapes (such as campgrounds and battlefields). All of these structures are supported by more than 3,000 utility systems.
As part of the NPS Green Parks Plan (GPP) launched in 2013, the NPS is designing new facilities and renovating existing buildings, with the overall goal to make all national park units more sustainable.
The Green Parks Plan objectives include:
- IIncorporating sustainable design and adaptation actions into new projects and major renovations;
- Taking actions to address park operations that contribute to climate change, and
- Ensuring that all projects meet minimum sustainability standards.;
These efforts will include reviewing and revising all relevant NPS facilities operations, rehabilitation and maintenance programs, practices, and policies to consider increased climate variability and environmental events. National parks across the country are working on key environmental issues ranging from reducing energy and water consumption to limiting waste to lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.
The GPP is a comprehensive approach to sustainability that will reduce the National Park Service's carbon footprint through actions taken in every park and office. The plan sets forth nine strategic goals for park units:
- Continuously Improve Environmental Performance: meet or exceed the requirements of all applicable environmental laws.
- Be Climate Friendly and Climate Ready: reduce greenhouse gas emissions and determine how facilities can be adapted to respond to the risk posed by climate change.
- Be Energy Smart: improve energy performance and increase reliance on renewable energy.
- Be Water Wise: improve water use efficiency.
- Green Our Rides: transform vehicle fleet and adopt greener transportation methods.
- Buy Green and Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: purchase environmentally friendly products and increase waste diversion and recycling.
- Preserve Outdoor Values: minimize the impact of facility operations on the external environment
- Adopt Best Practices: employ sustainable best practices in all park operations.
- Foster Sustainability Beyond Our Boundaries: engage visitors about sustainability and invite their participation to take sustainable actions in the park and at home.
Each goal includes specific objectives. For example, by 2020, the NPS will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from on-site fossil fuel combustion and electricity consumption by 35 percent and non-irrigation potable water use by 30 percent.
Visit the NPS Green Parks Plan web site to view or download the full plan.