Greenest Park Initiative
Centennial Goal: By 2016, Yellowstone National Park will reduce electricity consumption by 15%.
In 2007, Yellowstone consumed 26.8 million kilowatt hours of energy, costing $3.1 million.
Through the Greenest Park Initiative, the Park will implement new technologies such as solar and micro hydropower, install high-efficiency appliances, equipment, lighting fixtures and sensors, and implement an energy education program.
Yellowstone has a tradition of using clean energy, and in fact installed a Pelton water wheel (pictured at left) in 1911 to generate power from the existing water supply infrastructure at Mammoth Hot Springs. While the original system is defunct, recent studies have determined that a new micro hydropower system could once again provide clean energy to the Park.
While the Foundation had expected to raise private support for this project, in early 2009 the Park was awarded $1.65 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus fund to purchase the turbine and install the system. Annually, the new system will save an estimated 900,000 kilowatts of renewable energy and $80,000 in energy costs. This effort will help move the Park toward its electricity reduction goal and allows the Foundation to focus on other energy projects described below.
Lighting Fixtures, Sensors, and Retrofits
There are more than 1,500 buildings and outdoor areas in Yellowstone that require the use of artificial light. Since 2000, the Park has been replacing inefficient fixtures and installing new technologies and designs to improve energy conservation.
With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, the Park will continue replacement of inefficient lighting fixtures, install motion sensors, and change out remaining incandescent bulbs.
With the advent of new technologies, there is a growing list of applicable sites in the Park for solar energy. With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, Yellowstone will phase in solar electricity and hot water technology from 2009 to 2013, for an annual savings of 450,000 kilowatts and $170,000.
Combined heat and power units, or Micro-CHP units, replace old gas furnaces and provide both electricity and heat more efficiently. With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, Yellowstone will install eight new Micro-CHP units to test their applicability to the Park and save 32,000 kilowatts of energy each year.
Yellowstone is limited in its ability to accurately measure its total energy consumption. It is critical that the Park install electric meters to create an improved energy-tracking system that will help guide the Park’s energy conservation strategy. Thirty percent of the Park’s total energy consumption occurs at Mammoth Hot Springs headquarters because of its year-round operation. A 2008 pilot program used a meter in Mammoth to track the effects of employee behavior changes on actual, daily electricity consumption and proved a successful tool in conserving energy. With support from the Yellowstone Park Foundation, the Park plans to install 20 additional power monitors in the Mammoth area.
Lamar Buffalo Ranch
The historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch has become an important classroom for its rich history, beautiful setting, and remarkable wildlife viewing. It is also an exemplary use of low impact infrastructure and renewable energy.
With the Yellowstone Park Foundation's support, the Park will create a model for off-grid environmental stewardship and education at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch by adding more solar panels, low-flow water fixtures, micro hydropower, on-demand hot water, zero-waste and recycling programs, and improved building structures including more energy-efficient windows.
With the Yellowstone Park Foundation's support, Yellowstone will replace outdated appliances—such as clothes washers, ice and vending machines, and office equipment—with more efficient appliance upgrades.
Computer Monitor and Power Management
With the Yellowstone Park Foundation's support, the Park will replace old computer monitors with more efficient LCD displays or laptops. It will also implement a computer energy consumption awareness campaign for employees, including: education on computer energy use, nighttime and weekend computer turn-off policy, and IT Department energy management protocols.