With the climate summit in Copenhagen winding down, it is a good time to reflect on the environment. As disappointing as it is that no agreement was reached on reducing greenhouse gases, it is important to remember that agreements and targets alone do very little to get results. The real focus needs to be on actions. With carbon reduction, we need to change the way we have been lived and approached many issues for the last 100+ years. Since the dawn of the industrial age we have focused on burning fossil fuels to run our economy. We are now in a transition time where we are trying to both consume less fossil fuel and shift to more sustainable alternatives.
Some of the steps the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has taken include the following:
- Since 2005 we have been tracking all of our energy consumption and working to conserve where ever possible.
- We have an annual award that goes to the park that has had the largest percentage reduction in energy consumptions (carbon emissions). And every park has a site specific energy conservation plan.
- NVRPA was the first park agency to sign on to the Cool Cities/Cool Counties initiative. These programs follow the guidelines of Kyoto Protocol, with no increase in carbon emissions past 2010, and a 2% reduction for every year from 2010 – 2050.
- For years Bull Run Regional Park was the site of the largest holiday light show in the region. In 2006 NVRPA invested to create the largest all LED light show. This show uses just 10% of the energy of the old show and is hugely popular.
- We have put electric utility vehicles at 5 of our parks. These vehicles have replaced gas vehicles.
- NVRPA has an energy conservation policy that encourages us to look at the life cycle cost of any energy consuming equipment. This has led to the use of high efficiency pumps, heating systems and other equipment that has been replaced over the last few years.
The public looks to parks for environmental information and education. We want to lead by example and be early implementers of some of the new technology that will help us transition to a more sustainable model. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is either using or in the process of implementing the following technologies:
- Photovoltaic Solar Energy Generation
- Geothermal Heat Pumps
- Electric Vehicles
- Hybrid Vehicles
- LEED Certified Buildings
- Solar Hot Water Heaters
- Recycling rain water to flush toilets
As managers of over 10,000 acres of forests and other natural areas we are seeing the affects of global warming on our natural environment and we want to be on the leading edge of addressing the causes of global climate change.