Sustainability & Green Parks

Sustainability in transportation is a key feature in our 2016 Green Parks Plan. The NPS will transform our fleet and adopt greener transportation methods as part of the plan. Promoting the development of alternative transportation is an important part of achieving this goal.

Transportation accounts for over 30 percent of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from NPS operations. The NPS has prioritized reducing both direct emissions associated with our fleet and indirect emissions from the travel of park employees, through the implementation of strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, incorporate alternative fuel vehicles into the fleet, and install alternative vehicle refueling infrastructure. The NPS will continue to transform our fleet into a new generation of fuel efficient, low GHG-emitting vehicles. Evaluating current practices and working to increase efficiency through new and existing partnerships are key ways that the Service is working to adopt sustainable transportation and fleet operations.

  1. The NPS will evaluate and transform the size, types of vehicles, and technologies used in our fleet to increase efficiency and reduce GHG emissions to the extent practical and economically feasible.
  2. The NPS will reduce the fleet-wide average GHG emissions per mile traveled by vehicles in the NPS fleet by 30 percent by 2025 from the 2014 baseline.
  3. The NPS will implement strategies to reduce indirect transportation GHG emissions such as encouraging alternative commuting practices, including employee telework as appropriate, and reducing emissions from official travel.
  4. The NPS will prioritize active transportation (human-powered transportation like walking and biking) in planning and design of new transportation-related opportunities, facilities, and infrastructure.

Alternative Fuels

To help improve air quality, decrease noise, preserve natural resources, and enhance the visitor experience, the NPS is using alternative fuels to power park vehicles and alternative transportation systems (ATS) at many NPS units.

Alternative fuels are clean-burning fuels that can power motor vehicles, buses, boats, and trams. Alternative fuel vehicles tend to be more efficient than gasoline or diesel vehicles and they emit nearly 90 percent fewer toxins and ozone-forming hydrocarbons.

Alternative fuels come in many forms.
  • Natural Gas – In either a compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG) state, natural gas is clean burning and produces significantly fewer harmful emissions than gasoline.
  • Propane – Propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining.
  • Ethanol – Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel produced by fermenting and distilling corn, barley, wheat, wood, and grasses.
  • Methanol – Derived from the fermenting and distilling of wood into alcohol, methanol can be combined with gasoline to power engines or used to provide hydrogen to power fuelcell vehicles.
  • Electricity – Electricity can fuel vehicles through rechargeable batteries or through fuel cells that produce an electric current by combining hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Biodiesel – Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources such as soybeans or recycled restaurant greases. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend, the most popular of which is B20; a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Environmental benefits

Alternative fuels are more environmentally friendly than traditional gasoline and diesel fuels. Many, such as biodiesel, are biodegradable, non-toxic, and renewable. Renewable fuels are made from materials that replenish naturally and aren’t likely to run out. Alternative-fuel vehicles produce fewer harmful emissions of Carbon Monoxide, Volatile Organic Compounds, Sulfur Oxides, and particulate matter. Vehicles using alternative fuels contribute less to ground-level ozone, global climate change, and acid rain problems, and help improve visibility. In addition to burning more cleanly than gasoline or diesel, alternative fuels tend help to reduce noise levels in parks. These environmentally friendly practices are now being exhibited at park sites throughout the country.

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