Becoming a Carbon Neutral Park

Solar panels on park headquarters building.
Solar panels on park headquarters building.

NPS photo

In accordance with the Climate Change Action Plan, our goal is to achieve carbon-neutral park operations and contribute no net release of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

Sustainability projects at Golden Gate have focused on reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping gases generated from our park operations. When we burn fossil fuels for energy and transportation, we add more and more CO2 into the atmosphere. This buildup acts like a blanket that traps heat around the world, disrupting the climate and ecosystems.

Major efforts undertaken by the park to reduce these emissions include purchasing 100% renewable electricity and improving the efficiency of the park fleet with electric and hybrid vehicles. However, the park still relies on natural gas, propane, and diesel for certain operations. In addition, organic materials sent to landfills release methane, another heat-trapping gas. The park will continue working to reduce CO2 emissions and its contribution to climate change.

As an interim measure, the park plans to purchase carbon credits to offset its carbon emissions. We achieved this for one year - the 2018 fiscal year - with a grant from our non-profit partner, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

A graph showing the park's carbon footprint from 2013 to 2022. The sectors are Waste, Transportation, and Energy
GGNRA has been working to reduce its carbon footprint, mostly through generating and purchasing renewable electricity. In 2018, the park purchased carbon offsets to achieve carbon-neutral park operations. Details of the most recent Fiscal Year 2022 footprint are included in this webpage's content.


Carbon Footprint from Park Operations

The park measures emissions from three different sectors: Energy, Transportation, and Waste. The most recent carbon footprint calculation was completed in Spring 2023 with Fiscal Year 2022 data.

Purchased Electricity (Energy): this is the electricity we get from our energy providers. The park purchases 100% renewable electricity for our park buildings, creating a carbon footprint of zero from electricity used in Marin and San Francisco. The exception is for our park buildings at the Presidio, where our electricity is purchased through the Presidio Trust.

Stationary Combustion (Energy): this includes the propane, diesel, and natural gas that is used to heat our buildings and run emergency generators.

Some notes on trends in the Energy data:

  • In 2015, the park joined CleanPowerSF and began purchasing 100% renewable electricity in our San Francisco buildings.
  • Between 2017 - 2019, the Presidio Trust purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset the electricity used by NPS at the Presidio. The purchase of RECs ended with the financial distress of COVID-19.
  • Similarly, the park's concessionaire Alcatraz City Cruises purchased carbon offsets between 2016-2019 that included offsets for the diesel used in the Alcatraz generators. This support also ended with COVID-19. However, ACC now supplies Renewable Diesel for the park's generators on the island, which has a lower carbon footprint than fossil diesel.
  • Fluctuations in the remaining Energy sector between 2015-2022 are due to changes in propane and natural gas usage for heating buildings.

On-Road and Off-Road Fleet (Transportation): these are the vehicles we use for our park operations. Light duty vehicles transport staff to various park sites, and heavy duty equipment is used to mow, pave, and move sand on beaches. Most of our sedans are hybrids or electric, while the heavier equipment uses gas or diesel.

Notes on trends in the Transportation data:

  • The large drop in emissions between 2020 and 2021 are due to the dramatic decrease in the fuel use of both the light duty and heavy duty park fleets, as work around the park was curtailed by COVID-19.

Solid Waste (Waste): the waste that goes to landfills, especially organic materials, generates methane, a potent heat-trapping gas.

Wastewater (Waste): the methane created from sewage is also counted in our carbon footprint.

Last updated: March 11, 2024

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