FEMP and NPS Have a Lot Going on Behind the Scenery

What comes to mind when thinking about the National Park Service (NPS)? Protection of the nation’s most beautiful and wild places? Historical and cultural preservation?

How about sustainability? Sustainability may not be the first thing people think of when visiting a national park, but there is a lot going on behind the scenery. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), through a longstanding partnership with NPS, provides resources and guidance on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at national parks across the United States.

Partners in Sustainability

For years, FEMP has partnered with NPS to identify and implement distributed energy technologies and energy efficient designs. NPS is a large organization that operates over 25,000 buildings, maintains nearly 4,000 utility systems, and manages 424 individual units covering more than 85 million acres. Through their collaboration with FEMP, NPS serves as a model for sustainable resource management.

FEMP has helped NPS sites save energy costs, reduce energy and water waste, electrify fleets, lower emissions, and enhance resilience to grid outage events. These projects enhance the park experience by providing cleaner air and quieter sources of power which contribute to a more natural park visit experience and a healthier environment.

Bold Strategy to Attain Net-Zero Status

This week, in honor of Earth Day and National Park Week, NPS announced the latest version of the Green Parks Plan (GPP) which outlines a framework for a net-zero park system.

As a leader in environmental stewardship, it was more than 10 years ago when NPS first introduced the GPP—with the intent to reduce their environmental impact at all levels of the organization. Since its initial release, the GPP has been revised to address advancements in science and technology as well as new legislation and executive orders, such as Executive Order 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.

By working with park facility managers to assess energy optimization potential at sites, FEMP supports NPS in achieving the clean energy goals laid out in the GPP.

These five strategic goals reflect updated federal and NPS priorities and include:

  1. Be Climate Friendly and Climate Ready
    Combat the climate crisis by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Be Energy Smart and Water Wise
    Achieve net-zero water use and net-zero energy for facilities and operations.

  3. Buy Green and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    Achieve net-zero waste and sustainable procurement.

  4. Green Our Rides
    Adopt and support zero-emissions transportation methods.

  5. Foster a Sustainability Ethic
    Engage the NPS workforce, partners, visitors, stakeholders, and communities to support and participate in sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental justice.

What Kandt She Do? NREL Researcher Alicen Kandt Leads the Charge on Renewing Our National Parks

Read an interview with National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Alicen Kandt where she describes how federal agencies work with FEMP to turn their clean energy goals into practical applications.

Partnership In Action

NPS has a bold vision to attain a net-zero status throughout the park system, and FEMP is committed to helping them get there. Over the years, FEMP and NPS have worked together on a variety of renewable energy site assessments and projects, resulting in a collection of success stories highlighting significant cost savings and efficiency benefits.

FEMP has also provided technical assistance to various NPS sites through Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Tiger Teams. These teams are composed of fleet experts who review site zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisition opportunities, EV charging needs, and develop ZEV acquisition and EVSE installation recommendations that minimize costs while accommodating long-term charging needs. Examples of EVSE Tiger Team assessments include Grand Teton National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Yellowstone National Park.

FEMP Tools, Technologies, and Technical Assistance

From distributed energy and energy procurement to federal fleet electrification planning, FEMP has resources and tools available to help identify and implement clean energy projects throughout the national park system to meet GPP goals.

REopt: Renewable Energy Integration and Optimization Tool

With funding from FEMP, the REopt® web tool offers a broad range of capabilities at no cost to the user. The publicly available web tool helps commercial building managers evaluate the economic viability of distributed photovoltaics, wind, battery storage, combined heat and power, and thermal energy storage at a site; identify system sizes and battery dispatch strategies to minimize energy costs; and estimate how long a system can sustain critical load during a grid outage.

TRN: Technical Resilience Navigator

FEMP’s TRN tool helps organizations manage the risk to critical missions from disruptions in energy and water services. It provides a systematic approach to identifying energy and water resiliency gaps and developing and prioritizing solutions that reduce risk. The TRN enables organizations to be proactive in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities to their critical energy and water systems to reduce outage impacts and support continuous mission operations.

CDF: Customer Damage Function Calculator

FEMP’s CDF Calculator helps federal facility managers understand the costs incurred at their site because of an electric grid outage. The CDF Calculator is the first step in determining the potential avoided costs associated with resilience investments. Once a baseline of outage costs is identified, an organization can look to the REopt web tool or TRN to further understand the cost of inaction or to build out a given solution to a facility such as a microgrid.

Treasure Hunts (On-Site Audits)

A FEMP Treasure Hunt is a free guided training program which assists agencies in strategically meeting their energy efficiency and operations and maintenance goals, including energy and water reduction, decarbonization, and electrification milestones, through low- to-no cost measures. During this two-to-three-day event, participants learn how to identify and quantify quick wins to support energy and water use reduction and decarbonization. This method can yield immediate results; typically, in one to two months. Request FEMP technical assistance

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