Energy & Water

The National Park Service (NPS) Energy and Water Management Program provides guidance on reducing energy and water consumption throughout the NPS and helps parks increase energy and water efficiency. The program is responsible for assisting parks in improving the sustainability of NPS facilities, tracking and reporting performance data, and promoting the use of renewable energy resources and alternative fuels.

Energy and Water Consumption Monitoring

Accurate and comprehensive energy and water consumption monitoring is vital to the sustainable management of NPS facilities.  The NPS is currently engaged in several efforts to advance energy and water consumption monitoring including completing the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) and Sustainability Report, identifying and documenting utility meters, tracking consumption in the Financial Business Management System, and benchmarking using Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Annual GHG and Sustainability Report

The NPS produces an annual GHG and sustainability report that provides a snapshot of how NPS is performing against goals set out in Executive Order 13423, 13514, and EISA.  Specifically, the report summarizes data about total annual consumption of energy and water, associated costs, and estimated GHG emissions.  The NPS uses this information to understand year-over-year changes in facility energy intensity (energy management), eligible renewable electricity use as a percentage of total electricity use (renewable energy requirement), reduction in potable water consumption intensity (water intensity reduction goal), metering of electricity use, and percent of new building designs that meet the Federal Building Energy Efficiency Standard.


The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) requires federal agencies to install electric meters on all appropriate federal buildings.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), Public Law 110-140, expands this requirement to include natural gas and steam meters.  In 2012, NPS began an effort to identify and track utility meters to support long-term energy management.  Parks identified their utility meters and submitted the information to WASO for integration into financial and energy management systems.

Financial Business Management System

Tracking energy and water consumption is necessary for NPS to make informed management decisions.  Accurate data will help NPS identify opportunities to reduce consumption, increase efficiency, and move towards alternative forms of consumption.  The NPS is participating in an effort led by the Department of the Interior to organize and consolidate energy and water data tracking under the Financial and Business Management System (FBMS).

FBMS is an integrated suite of software applications that will help bureaus within the DOI manage a variety of business functions, including budget formulation and execution; personal, real, and fleet property information; travel; financial assistance; and other enterprise management information.  For energy and water reporting purposes, FBMS provides a single database to capture utility consumption and cost information for auditable tracking and reporting.

Energy Star Portfolio Manager

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), Public Law 110-140, requires federal agencies to use an energy benchmarking system to track energy consumption data for metered buildings under a Covered Facility.  Additionally, Executive Order (EO) 13514 requires federal agencies to capture and enter energy data for all buildings over 5,000 square feet (ft2) into a benchmarking system.
The recommended benchmarking system, Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM), is an interactive, web-based, energy management tool developed and maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  NPS WASO is currently creating accounts in Energy Star Portfolio Manager to assist parks throughout the country with benchmarking buildings in the NPS portfolio as well as tracking compliance with the Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.

Energy and Water Audits

The NPS has been conducting contracted energy and water audits at parks throughout the Service. This effort is both required to meet federal mandates and will provide parks with useful information concerning their energy and water consumption and progress towards meeting performance targets as well as preserving resources. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires federal agencies to conduct energy and water evaluations at facilities that together consume at least 75 percent of agency-wide energy use ("covered facilities"). The NPS has 75 covered facilities, or parks, which it audits on a rolling four-year cycle.


The Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) ENABLE Program is a new funding program from the Department of Energy.  The program is intended for federal facilities with buildings under 200,000 square feet and offers a standardized and streamlined process to quickly award projects and realize savings.  The program targets straight-forward energy conservation measures (ECMs) including lighting, water fixtures, basic HVAC controls, HVAC system replacement and solar PV.  ESPC ENABLE offers the same benefits as a conventional ESPC while at the same time, taking advantage of the GSA Schedule and its set of pre-qualified vendors and pre-negotiated pricing. This allows for a faster selection process so that a project can be designed and installed quickly.  The NPS is piloting the approach as a way to use third-party financing to advance NPS energy and water goals.

Note: ENABLE is not an acronym, but rather its name is rooted in its intention to ENABLE federal agencies to meet energy savings goals in buildings that traditionally get left behind due to their smaller size. Because the retrofits pay for themselves federal agencies can implement them without using appropriated funds.

Guidance for the Use of Renewable Energy Technology within NPS Park Operations

NPS recently prepared a document entitled Guidance for the Use of Renewable Energy Technology within NPS Park Operations that is intended to support NPS staff as they evaluate whether and how to use renewable energy technology in park operations, including such issues as:
  • How renewable energy fits within the NPS mission
  • How renewable energy contributes to federal renewable energy targets and goals
  • How to implement a renewable energy project

The Guidance specifically addresses considerations for incorporating renewable energy technology into existing and new structures as well as stand-alone applications. 

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

In 2009 and 2010, the NPS received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support renewable energy and energy conservation projects. Over those two years, the NPS installed and began operating 16 photovoltaic systems and made energy efficiency improvements in over 40 buildings Servicewide. Other renewable energy projects included the installation of a wind turbine in an Alaska park. Additionally, many other parks completed smaller projects such as installing solar lights in parking lots and completing lighting retrofitting projects. Together, these projects reduced annual energy consumption (BTU per square foot) by 9.29% Servicewide, and generate nearly 350,000 kWh of renewable energy—both supporting our economic recovery and saving valuable taxpayer dollars.

Past Project: Energy Smart PARKS Highlights

The 2008-2009 Energy SmartPARKs program implemented and showcased sustainable energy practices in national parks to inspire a green energy future for America. Through a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Park Service (NPS) and the DOE expanded their ongoing partnership by establishing this program.

Through the program, parks deployed cutting-edge technology as well as traditional solutions, including projects that retrofitted lighting systems, purchased electric utility vehicles, installed solar panel systems, upgraded meters and thermostats, replaced windows and furnaces, studied the feasibility of wind power, and conducted energy audits. Lessons learned from these projects can be used in other national parks and in the homes of every American. In addition, the partnership provided the NPS with technical advice from DOE’s energy experts.