Monday, March 24, 2008

Reducing Global Warming - Saving Energy

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has followed the lead of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Arlington County Board, and City of Alexandria in adopting the Cool Counties/Cool Cities pledge to reduce greenhouse gases. This pledge fit in well with the comprehensive energy conservation efforts NVRPA put in place in late 2005. As a result of these efforts NVRPA was able to reduce it's "carbon footpring" in 2007.

Below are some key elements of this successful program:

Measure Everything
If meaningful goal are going to be set and achieved, one must have a baseline to measure against. The Finance Office at NVRPA now does more than just paying the utility bills, each month they log in the units of consumption (gallons, kilowatt/hr, etc.) for each of the 21 parks and facilities in the Authority. Spreadsheets convert each unit of consumption into tons of carbon (CO2). Now, emissions can be measured at each facility and across every form of energy.

Set a Goal
When the energy conservation policy was adopted by the Park Authority Board, an annual goal was set to reduce energy consumption by 5% across. By signing on to the Cool Counties Initiative, the Board agreed to stop increasing carbon emissions by 2010 and then reduce the output of carbon by 2% per year for every year after that until 2050 (resulting in an 80% reduction). In the first full year of the effort, total carbon emissions were reduced well ahead of the Cool Counties goal.

Establish Site Specific Plans
As important as the big goals of total carbon reduction are, what really makes a difference are the site specific plans. Each park manager had a management goal of completing and implementing an energy conservation plan for their facility. These plans included looking at many of the simple energy conservation measures as well as looking to larger changes for the future. A tremendous amount of energy efficiency can be accomplished with easy to find products from the local home improvement store like: insulation, high efficiency lighting, programmable thermostats and motion sensing light switches. Many people think the answer will come from some great new technology, like hydrogen fuel cells. New technologies will clearly play a big role in the future, but it is important not to miss the low hanging fruit that simple energy conservation can give us today. Currently, NVRPA has implemented the following emission reducing tactics:

  • High efficiency lighting including motion sensing switches.

  • Programmable thermostats

  • Retrofitting buildings with better windows and insulation

  • Use of high efficiency pumps

  • Geo-thermal heat pumps

  • Green building techniques

  • Active solar power generation

  • Introduction of more electric utility vehicles in the parks

  • Hybrid and natural gas (CNG) burning vehicles

    Look at Lifecycle Costs
    In the world of government purchasing, low bids usually win the day. In an era of changing technology to improve energy efficiency, it is vital to consider the life cycle costs of products. From compact florescent lighting that costs more than traditional incandescent bulbs but have a much longer life and uses a fraction of the power, to whole buildings that can now be built with green technology that may cost more initially but results in energy savings for the life of the structure, the long-term view is critical. The principle of considering the full life cycle costs of any energy consuming equipment or facility was part of the Park Authority’s energy conservation policy.

    In 2006, the Park Authority decided to put in place a 2.5 mile holiday light show at Bull Run Regional Park, responding to public support for a show to replace one offered by a contractor for many years. The Authority asked for proposals for both incandescent lights as well as LED lights and then decided to purchase the first all-LED light show of its size in the country, even though its initial purchase cost was higher than traditional incandescent lights would have been. The durability of the LED lights means significantly lower maintenance costs, they last much longer and use just 10% of the energy that it takes to light a traditional bulb. These factors will more than make up for the difference in the purchase price in just a few years.

    Reward Success
    To reward the best efforts in energy conservation and emissions reductions, NVRPA added an award to their annual achievement awards to recognize the park facility that produced the greatest reduction in energy consumption. In 2006, the prize went to Brambleton Regional Golf Course for reducing the electrical consumption in the Clubhouse by 27%. In 2007 the award went to Cameron Run Regional Park which reduced their energy consumption by almost 21%.

    Educate the Public
    The Authority hosted an Energy Conservation Fair at Potomac Overlook Regional Park to help educate the public about what they can do to use less fossil fuel. This is only one example of the many programs the agency has put forth to better engage the public on not only the Park Authority’s efforts, but the opportunity that each member of society has as well. Informing the public of an agency’s energy conservation efforts is almost as important as the efforts themselves, since this can encourage others to do their part. We would like to see some level of environmental education be a part of every park visitor’s outdoor recreational experience.

Building on these successful efforts, we are working to develop new energy education exhibits to be used at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in the next year.

Regional Parks Show Environmental Leadership

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been amoung the first in the park field to lead on a number of envirnmental issues.

  • In late 2007 NVRPA was the first park agency in the nation to sign on to Cool Counties or Cool Cities. These are initatives to reduce greenhouse gases.

  • NVRPA is the first and currently only public park agency in the Mid-Atlantic states to get their golf courses certified by Audubon International as wildlife sanctuaries. This was an extensive year long process to achieve environmental excellence is a wide number of areas.

  • Most recently NVRPA became the first park agency to become a partner with the EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. This partnership grew out of NVRPA's cutting edge fertizer and pesticide use policy that goes far beyond what is required by law.

As the stewards of over 10,000 acres of land, most of it along the major waterways of our region, it is critcally important that we lead by example, in these and other evironmental concerns.

Environmental Leadership Links:

  • NVRPA is the first park agency to sign on to Cool Cities, and Cool Counties agreement to reduce carbon footprint.

  • NVRPA is the first park agency to sign on to EPA's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.

  • Setting a Green Example: Washington Post Article about NVRPA's energy conservation efforts.

  • You Tube video of the largest all LED holiday light show in the world at Bull Run Regional Park.

  • All three NVRPA golf courses are certified Wildlife Sancuaries by Audubon International.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Employee Achievement Awards

Again this year we recognized some of the employees that went far beyond their basic job and achieved great things. Every year for the last three years we have had this awards program. These individuals were nominated by their co-workers and selected by a cross-functional committee of NVRPA employees out of a great field of nominees.

2007 Employee Achievement Awards

Anthony (Tony) Blevins

In the category of Safety, Tony and his staff have a perfect record for 2007. Tony consistently places a high priority on the public’s health and safety. His considerable knowledge was instrumental in the development of the NVRPA Pesticide and Fertilizer Use policy, which will improve the health and safety of all NVRPA parks.

Benjamin (Ben) Bilko

In the category of Safety, Ben has brought a determined focus on aquatic safety to Cameron Run. Under his leadership, the lifeguard staff at Cameron Run achieved their highest rating from NASCO. Ben has taken a hands-on approach to his job, working with customers and staff to create an atmosphere of safety for everyone.

Daryl Adams

In the categories of Safety and Cost Savings, Daryl has developed a preventive maintenance program for all Park Authority fleet vehicles. He has also gone into great detail in correcting any safety problems with the Park Authority fleet, minimizing the likelihood of any accidents. The maintenance program will save the Park Authority money in the long term and improve safety for NVRPA staff.

John (Matt) Woods

In the categories of Programming and Above-and-Beyond, Matt created new interpretive trails for Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. He also worked with volunteers and graphic artists to create a series of new interpretive signs that tell the story of the battle with much more detail and accuracy. Matt also developed a detailed map of the trail. All of this was done in addition to Matt’s duties at Temple Hall Farm, and included a considerable amount of Matt’s personal time.

Richard Bailey

In the categories of Innovation and Programming, Rich planned, coordinated and implemented the development of a wall-sized educational mural in the nature center auditorium. He worked with the Arlington Alliance to get volunteers to draw the template for the mural. He also created a wall-sized mosaic of the earth and the moon on the outside of the nature center. Rich has organized field trips for the Junior Naturalist camp, including a trip to property owned by his parents on the Chesapeake Bay, culminating in rave reviews as well as a number of new and/or improved programs for different age groups.

Bryan McFerren

In the categories of Cost Savings and Innovation, Bryan changed the fairway turf at Algonkian Golf Course to Bermuda grass. This change will significantly reduce the chemicals and maintenance needed on the fairways. The result of this change is an improved golf course, less environmental impact, and tens of thousands of dollars in annual cost savings. Bryan also achieved the “Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification” for Brambleton and Algonkian Golf Courses. This accomplishment makes NVRPA the only park agency to achieve this level of environmental excellence in the mid-Atlantic states.

John Moore

In the categories of Versatility and Above-and-Beyond, John has shown a wonderful “can do” attitude. John has also shown great leadership in making improvements to Temple Hall’s Corn Maze. John was instrumental in working with the extension service to support “Ag Day” at Temple Hall, an event that educated over 800 children about agriculture. He works during his off-hours with the Loudoun County Fair Board and the Loudoun County 4-H program. John lives at Temple Hall Farm, which requires him to be on call 24 hours.

Alan Marshall

In the category of Versatility, Alan has stepped in whenever needed to maintain the equipment at Algonkian Golf Course, even though he was not hired as a mechanic. Alan has voluntarily taken on this task, which in turn has saved money because of less down time. Alan has also taken the time to create a service plan worksheet for all maintenance equipment at Algonkian, which helps with preventative maintenance. This service also prolongs the overall life of the equipment fleet at Algonkian.

Robert Croson

In the category of Versatility, Robert is the gardener for Brambleton Golf Course, but serves in many other capacities. Robert demonstrated his carpenter abilities by building a new staircase leading up to a forward tee at Brambleton. Because of the new stairs, golfers can safely proceed up and down from the tee during all types of weather.

Chris Marshall

In the category of Versatility, Chris has taken great initiative in obtaining certifications and in learning and performing all aspects of equipment repair. Chris has been with the Park Authority less than two (2) years and is now a Certified Chemical Applicator Technician. Chris is the first park maintenance worker to earn this certification, which helps free time for staff supervisors to perform other tasks. Chris has also learned how to make repairs to the irrigation system and to the mowing equipment.

Mark Brooks

In the categories of Versatility and Innovation, Mark fabricated and designed the surf- board signs, which helped the Cameron Run Pool concession be as successful as it was last year. Mark’s contribution was key to making the Holiday Village a success this year by using his great skills to make our yurts meet fire code and also have central heat. Santa could not have done his job this year, if Mark had not been such a skilled and creative carpenter.

Jonelle Bailey

In the category of Versatility, Jonelle led numerous improvements at the Bull Run Special Events Center including revised applications and contracts, and redesigned the Holiday Village. Jonelle has also updated all of Bull Run’s forms, and all of this while learning an entire new park system and providing exceptional customer service.

Everett (Jack) Shepherd

In the categories of Team Player and Above-and-Beyond, Jack saw the potential and took the initiative to create a scenic overlook at Occoquan Regional Park. Jack often comes in on his days off to check on projects or to help out with special events at the park. Jack also helps the new Rangers and teaches them about proper work ethics. Jack truly has a special passion for Occoquan Regional Park that benefits all members of the public who use this park.

Doug Radoye

In the category of Team Player, Doug exemplifies the best qualities of someone who helps others. Doug has shown great initiative in identifying and solving electrical problems throughout the NVRPA system. In 2006 and 2007, Doug’s contribution was key to the success of the Bull Run Light Show, making sure we had power everywhere we needed it for the light displays and Holiday Village.

Susan Chidakel

In the categories of Team Player and Above-and-Beyond, Susan has helped all parks and departments with her great service to internal customers. Over the last couple of years, the budget process has changed substantially and has become much more transparent, user friendly and useful. Throughout these changes, Susan has worked to communicate with park managers, made sure all the changes were well understood, and also ensured that the information in the budgets was presented in a manner that was helpful to managers.

Thomas (Tom) Carr

In the category of Team Player, Tom has been instrumental in the many operational changes to how the Brambleton Golf Course is being maintained. Tom’s knowledge and expertise have played a critical role in the many improvements to the Brambleton Golf Course over the last year.

David Langhorne

In the category of Team Player, Dave has shown great skills in repairing equipment, advising others on what equipment to purchase in the future, and applying his knowledge to a wide variety of other issues. Dave has regularly gone beyond his job as a mechanic and used his skills and expertise on very concrete projects at Central Maintenance.

Derric Bolton

In the category of Team Player, Derric works tirelessly to ensure that our pools and parks are safe operations for the public and staff. Derric was instrumental in developing a new Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Policy for NVRPA that positions our agency as a national environmental leader. Derric assists every park with a wide range of operational issues, making him one of our most significant team players.

Cynthia (Cindy) Hudson

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Cindy continues to provide outstanding customer service to staff. She manages every conceivable human resource issue, and is dedicated to helping all staff understand the full range of benefits and options available to them. In 2007, Cindy researched and implemented a health savings plan, which will provide a new and valuable benefit to many employees. She has also worked closely with the Human Resources Committee of the Park Authority Board to develop and review a wide variety of human resource policies and to ensure NVRPA’s policies represent the best current views on these subjects.

David (Dave) Fellers

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Dave continues to make great contributions to the public with his stewardship of the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail. He builds bridges and water bars, clears fallen trees, installs and maintains trail signs and removes trash along this 17.5-mile trail. He often spends his personal time dealing with all sorts of trail matters, and he does all of this so that the public can enjoy the true beauty of nature.

Rebecca (Becky) Reynaldo

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Becky has proven her extraordinary skills over and over in the oversight of NVRPA’s finances. Becky’s attention to detail has been a major factor in the clean audits and complimentary comments the Authority has received from the auditors over the last few years.

Kathryn (Kate) Irwin

In the categories of Innovation and Customer Service, Kate has shown great leadership in initiating and running a recycling program for the whole agency, dealing with printer cartridges and cell phones. She was also instrumental in setting up the paper, plastic and metal recycling program at Pohick Bay Golf Course. These programs significantly reduced the waste in our park and go a long way towards making Pohick Bay Golf Course, and NVRPA as a whole, a greener operations facility. Kate’s environmentalism has also extended to the outreach and education efforts that are part of the Audubon International Certification for Pohick Bay Golf Course.

Jake Bumbrey

In the Customer Service category, Jake provides great service to all our parks by helping the staff manage a wide range of construction contracts. Jake provides this valuable service with great good will and a “can do” attitude. In 2007, Jake was instrumental in overseeing a number of critical contracts that needed to be done to have another successful Light Show and Holiday Village at Bull Run Special Events Center. Jake makes sure NVRPA receives a good value from our contractors, and that the park staff is satisfied with the end product.

Kelly Weddington

In the category of Customer Service, Kelly has made dealing with the public a specialty that she excels at. While at Headquarters working as the Receptionist/Reservationist, Kelly handled an enormous volume of calls from the public, while helping to implement and start the use of a new website and reservation system. Kelly’s outstanding example of excellent customer service contributed to her promotion to Park Ranger at Temple Hall Farm, where she has already made great contributions.

James (Jim) Short

In the category of Customer Service, Jim has dedicated himself to improving the experience for all users at Sandy Run. His supervision of the regattas at Sandy Run has received numerous compliments from the general public and rowing community. When faced with challenges, Jim has consistently worked with those members of the public in a professional and polite manner until their issue was resolved, providing a model for all those around him to follow.

Katherine (Kathy) Brooks

In the category of Customer Service, Kathy serves a vital role in assisting our internal park operations customers. She handles a very large number of public contacts and internal issues and does so in a very helpful and courteous manner. Kathy takes great pride in her responsibilities and carries them out skillfully and with great efficiency.

MVP (2)


Dennis Charlton has forever changed the way we look at food service in our parks, from a low priority snack bar to a central, value-added service we can provide our customers. Dennis saved the Authority over $100,000 in the first few months of work by renegotiating contracts. Through his leadership, both the quality and profitability of our food service operations have dramatically improved. Just at Cameron Run, Dennis increased food sales by 38% during the summer of 2007. The dynamic team of Dennis Charlton and Scott Boger helped make 2007 one of the most successful years in NVRPA’s history.


For having such a positive and “can do” attitude in whatever he was working on, Scott Boger set a great example for all those he worked with. Scott has set a new high bar for customer service, far exceeding the expectations of our customers at Cameron Run, Temple Hall Farm, the Bull Run Light Show and everywhere else he worked. The dynamic team of Scott Boger and Dennis Charlton helped make 2007 one of the most successful years in NVRPA’s history.



Applying his 34 years of experience in park operations, Paul has helped transform the Park Authority in a very profound way. In his role as Director of Operations, he listens to and coaches Park Managers, his two Superintendents and other staff members. There is probably not an employee at NVRPA, who has not benefited from Paul’s knowledge and wisdom in some way. During the last several years, Paul has fostered a renewed entrepreneurial spirit at our organization. From the Holiday Light Show at Bull Run to the theming and marketing of our pools and water parks, Paul has played a major role in making our facilities more popular than ever before. In 2007, no one has contributed more to the success of NVRPA than Paul McCray.