Climate Friendly Practices

JODA_Painted Hills Unit (Matt ROSE)
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument received a NPS Environmental Achievement Award for their zero-net energy ranger unit.

NPS/M. Rose

Though adapting to climate change is the core of National Park Service (NPS) strategy, it is far easier and more cost effective to prevent aspects of climate change from happening in the first place than to manage their effects. The NPS recognizes that many of our activities, decisions, and plans have impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and storage. Therefore, responding to climate change begins with limiting our own emissions and incorporating climate-friendly practices into our management and culture.

Minimizing the cause of climate change is often called mitigation, and it involves reducing our "carbon footprint" by using less energy (and/or shifting to renewable and alternative energy options) and appropriately altering our land management practices. Mitigation is also achieved through carbon sequestration, a process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is taken up by biological and physical processes. The most common form of sequestration is photosynthesis in plants (e.g., tree trunks and roots, grasses, algae), which converts CO2 into biomass. The giant sequoia trees in California and the mangroves along the Gulf Coast are critically important as they pull large amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere. The NPS manages much of the lands that these two species are found.

The NPS is quickly becoming a model of thoughtful and environmental sensitive climate stewardship. We are doing our part to become climate friendly by reducing GHG emissions within park boundaries and at NPS offices and encouraging low-cost efficiency and conservation measures that mitigate climate change.

Green Parks Plan

The Green Parks Plan (GPP) defines a collective vision and a strategic plan for sustainable operations in the NPS. The plan is framed around 9 goal categories and sets ambitious goals that make the NPS a worldwide leader in sustainability. The vision is strengthened by our commitment to "Go Green", as outlined in the Director's Call to Action, as well as the GPP being an integral part of the NPS Climate Change Action Plan [PDF].

Green Parks Plan
The goals of the GPP include:

  • Continuously Improve Environmental Performance
  • Be Climate Friendly and Climate Ready
  • Be Energy Smart
  • Be Water Wise
  • Green Our Rides
  • Buy Green and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Preserve Outdoor Values
  • Adopt Best Practices
  • Foster Sustainability Beyond Our Boundaries
Climate Friendly Parks
The Climate Friendly Parks (CFP) Program is one component of the NPS Green Parks Plan. The program supports parks in developing an integrated approach to address climate change through implementing sustainable practices throughout their operations.

Since 2003, the program has assist parks with:
  • Measuring park-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Educating staff, partners, stakeholders, and the public about climate change and demonstrate ways individuals and groups can take action to address the issue
  • Developing strategies and specific actions to address sustainability challenges, reduce GHG emissions, and anticipate the impacts of climate change on park resources.
The CFP Program includes over 120 member parks dedicated to reducing resource consumption, decreasing GHG emissions, and educating park staff and the public about climate change and sustainable initiatives taking place across the agency.

Read more about CFP member parks and the actions they are taking to help move the NPS in a more sustainable direction.
Fort Massachusetts at Gulf Islands National Seashore
Fort Massachusetts at Gulf Islands National Seashore

Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Western Carolina University

Climate Change Vulnerability and Facility Adaptation

In 2014, the NPS began a partnership with Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines to develop a Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Asset Vulnerability Assessment Tool.

This tool establishes a standards methodology and set of best practices for conducting vulnerability assessments in the build environment. Standardizing the methodologies and data utilized in these assessments allows managers to compare the vulnerability of coastal park assets across local, regional, and national levels.

For more information, visit the climate change vulnerability and facility adaptation page.

Environmental Achievement and Sustainability Initiatives

The NPS is a recognized leader in environmental performance and successful sustainability initiatives including the NPS Environmental Achievement (EA) Awards and the Clean Cities National Park Initiative.

NPS EA Awards are presented to teams, individuals, and agency partners who demonstrate exceptional accomplishments toward the overall goal of preservation and protection of NPS resources. Specifically, awards recognize outstanding achievements in the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 13693 Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade and meeting goals outlined in NPS Green Parks Plan.

Clean Cities National Park Initiative is a partnership initiative with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Clean Cities program and the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service (NPS). The initiative focuses on reducing petroleum consumption and vehicle emissions as well as educating park visitors so that they might adopt similar practices while visiting a parks and when they return home.

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    Last updated: December 15, 2017


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