Visitors to the Grand Canyon no longer have to battle traffic as they travel around the South Rim. The National Park Service operates a series of free shuttle buses
that run on clean burning compressed natural gas (CNG). The reduced emissions help keep the park’s atmosphere clear so visitors can take in the pure beauty of the canyon.
Across the country at Acadia National Park in Maine, visitors can board a free propane-powered shuttle bus. In August 2011, the bus transported its 4-millionth passenger. Propane is also in use at Glacier National Park
in Montana. The park’s iconic Red Bus fleet has been operating on propane for more than a decade.
Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hotel Dining Room is a Green Restaurant Association certified restaurant. The dining room earned a three-star rating (on a four-star scale) for its use of local and organic food, recycling and composting program and the use of energy and water efficient products.
At Muir Woods Café in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, visitors are treated to healthy and sustainable grab and go items. Staffers created a rating system that it used when assessing contract bids. Points were awarded in several categories including use of organic and local produce, Seafood Watch green list items, non-disposable water containers and more. The result is a restaurant that not only focuses on sustainable dining but also serves as an educational tool for park visitors.
The National Park Service is home to dozens of green buildings, including many that have earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The agency stepped things up this year, though, with the opening of the National Park Service’s first net zero visitor center.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Visitor Center in Calabasas, California is a LEED Platinum certified net zero building. A 94 kW solar photovoltaic system provides enough electricity to power the facility. Other green building features of the facility include a geothermal cooling system, a solar hot water heating system, water efficient plumbing and a clay roof tile “cool roof.”
Will you be visiting a National Park Service site this weekend? If so, try to locate a sustainability program during your visit then come back and share what you found. Thanks!