National Park Service honored with three environmental awards

Platinum is the new green

WASHINGTON - Move over digital maps and interactive displays - make room for that green roof, recycled glass countertop, low-flow toilet, and passive heating system.

Every day, thousands of people walk into National Park Service visitor centers to talk to rangers and see award-winning exhibits about nature and history. But now, it's the buildings themselves that are winning environmental awards - three more in the last month for Lassen Volcanic National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area

"We appreciate that people are taking notice of our efforts to be sustainable," said Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service Director. "Making our buildings and operations as 'green' as the parks themselves is a top priority for us."

The U.S. Department of Energy recently honored two National Park Service facilities in their annual Federal Energy and Water Management Awards. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center were both recognized in the Sustainable Design/High Performance Buildings category.

The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at Lassen achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. It is the first year-round LEED Platinum building in the National Park System as well as the first Platinum federal building in the State of California. The Destination Center at Blue Ridge Parkway was designed to conserve the Parkway's biologically diverse landscape, receiving a LEED certified Gold rating.

Recently, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented the 2009 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) to the Post-to-Park Transformation project at Fort Baker, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The GEELA is California's most prestigious environmental honor, given only to organizations and individuals who exemplify exceptional leadership for protecting and enhancing the environment while promoting economic growth.

President Barack Obama just released Executive Order 13514 calling for 15 percent of all federal buildings over 5,000 square feet to comply with "Guiding Principles" for sustainability by 2015. LEED standards, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, have been accepted by the Department of the Interior as meeting these "Guiding Principles." The National Park Service is already working to retrofit existing buildings and has pledged that all new construction will meet LEED standards. To learn more about National Park Service sustainable buildings, go to http://www.nps.gov/environment/sustainablebuildings.html.

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