Wednesday, Nov 18, 2009
Timpanogos Cave National Monument is raising the bar for sustainable park operations. Over the course of the past two years, the park has converted 55% of its fleet from vehicles with traditional gasoline engines to CNG (compressed natural gas), electric, biodiesel, or gas/electric hybrids.
All of these alternatives are mainstream and readily available. In Utah, CNG prices have fluctuated between $ .87 and $ .98 per gallon equivalent over the past two years, dramatically reducing fuel costs compared to comparable gasoline powered vehicles. The electric vehicles are quiet, reliable, and pollution free at their point of use.
This year, the park also implemented a park-wide recycling program for all paper/cardboard, batteries, bottle plastics, and metals.
“My staff and others in the park worked hard to implement the recycling program,” said chief of maintenance Gary Togstad. “We are proud of it and hope other parks that don’t have a recycling program follow suit.”
The fleet changes and recycling program are examples of the proactive measures parks can take to reduce their carbon footprint and thus reduce their contribution to climate change.
“The ways we use energy threaten our planet,” said superintendent Denis Davis. “The imminent worldwide decline in oil production will ripple through the economy. To address these issues, we will do our best to reduce our use of energy and CO2 emissions, and use non-petroleum fuel sources for our vehicle fleet. As leaders we need to set the highest standards and best example for our visitors with regards to protecting the environment, making wise use of our budget, and being socially responsible. These issues need to be prominently interpreted for park visitors to increase their awareness and understanding of these critical issues.”
Timpanogos Cave now considers sustainability, energy conservation, and renewable energy production in all management activities and decisions. Future efforts will include energy conservation measures in buildings and utilities, replacing the balance of the vehicle fleet over time with vehicles powered by non-petroleum fuels, development of renewable energy production infrastructure, and design goals/decisions that aim for zero net energy buildings for all new development. Davis said,
“Climate change and wise energy choices are issues that will define the 21st Century,” said Davis. “Nothing less than the well being of humankind hinges on our ability to shift the minds and hearts our citizenry to grasp that we are a part of the climate change problem, and that our wise energy choices are part of the solution.”