HVNP Receives EPA Achievement Award
In a national effort to challenge federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency launched the Federal Green Challenge.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park recently received the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge Regional Overall Achievement award for its efforts in reducing its environmental footprints through sustainable practices. The park attracts over 1.6 million visitors a year and is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. HVNP stretches from the summit of Mauna Loa down 13,777 feet to sea level and is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes.
The park actively works to reduce its environmental footprint in all six of the Federal Green Challenge target areas: energy, water, waste, electronics, purchasing, and transportation.
“We applaud National Park Service staff for leading the way towards zero waste, and educating the millions of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This unique landscape deserves protection, and that starts with the commitment by the federal employees who work there.”
Overall, HVNP increased its recycling by 167 percent and has an overall recycling rate of 76 percent, numbers that are at the top of the region. Other topical regional achievements include a reduction in copy paper purchases by 89 percent and 95 percent of the parks cleaning products meeting Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria.
“We are extremely honored to receive this level of recognition for our climate-friendly efforts,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our staff is dedicated to implementing environmentally responsible practices, and we encourage our visitors and park partners to do the same.”
In addition to meeting high levels of sustainable practices, HVNP provides community and visitor outreach through programs, exhibits, and presentations that focus on the importance and value of being climate friendly and sustainable.
HVNP also hosts the largest public rainwater catchment system. The system holds 5.3 million gallons of water, which is treated, filtered with both cartridge and sand filters, disinfected, and then supplied to 56 areas throughout the park.
In 2011, when HVNP’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center opened, it earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The 4,896 square-foot building is the only one in the state to receive the LEED Platinum certification. It is powered by photovoltaic panels and was constructed from mostly recycled or reused materials.
Among HVNP’s energy conservation efforts are electrically powered “Eco Bikes” that are used by park rangers and yellow LED lighting at the Kilauea Visitor Center. Solar panels at the park also generate renewable energy and electric and alternative fuel vehicles are also used to reduce energy and other transportation-related emissions.
In an effort to “walk the talk,” the EPA says that in 2014, more than 400 facilities, with a total of nearly 1.3 million federal employees, aimed to meet standards in various target areas to reduce their environmental footprint. In addition to a reduction in the environmental footprint, significant costs savings were also seen. According to the EPA, in its Pacific Southwest Region, $3,486,990 was saved through the reduction on energy, purchasing, transportation, and waste.