WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) signed a memorandum of understanding that will help the National Park Service (NPS) showcase sustainable energy practices. With equal amounts of initial “seed money” from DOE and DOI totaling $1 million for 2009, the Energy SmartPARKS program hopes to eventually draw private sector support for a green energy future.

“This partnership will deploy energy efficient and renewable energy technologies throughout the national park system,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “We have the power to not only improve conditions in the parks, but also demonstrate for the public the impacts and benefits of green energy innovations.”

“Our national parks are a showcase of this country’s natural beauty and historical significance. With this agreement, we’re ensuring that these parks are also models of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies,” said Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. “Our parks have always been an important way for Americans to learn about the environment; now they can learn about energy use as well.”

“The Energy SmartPARKS program will make positive, tangible advancements by greening the parks and by reducing energy costs and carbon emissions,” said Mary A. Bomar, director of the National Park Service. “This is a great way to demonstrate our environmental leadership as we approach the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.”

National parks will use the funding from Energy SmartPARKS to deploy cutting-edge technology as well as traditional solutions, including: installing solar panel systems; upgrading meters and thermostats; replacing windows and furnaces; studying the feasibility of wind power; and conducting energy audits. Lessons learned from the initial projects will then be used in other national parks.

Publication date:12/01/2008