Department of Parks and Recreation

The Department of Parks and Recreation has approximately 500 full-time and 400 part-time employees distributed throughout the state.  There are 904 buildings with electricity, 64 with offices, and 1298 electrified campsites.  Since parks are by nature remotely located, hundreds of vehicles are used to get to and around the 69 state parks, natural areas, recreation areas, and lakes (parks).  Those three facts comprise just about the entire scope of problems and solutions associated with sustainability within the division.  Through surveys we found that there is widespread awareness of conservation practices and those are often being implemented. Especially as it relates to energy use, the fact that each park must pay for energy consumed there is an incentive on the part of managers to reduce consumption.  In researching DPR’s facilities it seems that much the low hanging fruit leading to energy savings and sustainability is already being harvested.  What follows is a list of the common practices within state parks.  

Solutions already implemented:

  • Electric trucks being utilized for some within-park use
  • Added solar panels to the electric trucks for charging
  • Solar drip chargers for equipment that sits from time to time such as tractors, mower at remote area, etc.
  • GoFundMe page to install photovoltaic panels at Umstead’s visitor center. 
  • Low flow fixtures in bathrooms-widespread use
  • Waterless urinals-widespread use
  • LED light bulbs and fixtures (continual replacement to convert when replacing bulbs and fixtures)
  • Motion sensing lights at campground wash houses so lights are not on all night
  • Motion sensing lights in some of the VC public rooms
  • Removal of unnecessary lights in the park that previously were on all night
  • Tank-less water heaters when replacing units-widespread adoption
  • Widespread, but not universal, adoption of recycling bins
  • UV film added for VC windows
  • Time efficient driving methods to and from each park area. With our parks spread out, we try to limit windshield time by how we schedule task, and schedule staff to cover operations.
  • Kings Creek restroom facility – built for day use with no electricity in building, ambient lighting built in
  • Lake James SP has added two electric vehicle charging stations, Raven Rock is in the process. 
  • Since 2010 the Lake James SP bathhouse has used Solar water heating panels for nearly all of its hot water and heating requirements. 
  • Increased insulation in many older buildings

Sustainability Opportunities

  • Solar water heating capability could be more widespread. 
  • Employ energy audits of all department attractions for the highest yield energy savings.
  • Solar charging stations at campgrounds so visitors can charge their phones, tablets, etc.
  • Solar panel at picnic shelters with no electricity to provide some light at night, electricity for programs, charging for visitor electronics, etc.
  • Solar powered RV site for small units (not enough power for HVAC, but could advertise as a green site, bring attention to alternatives to make camping even more green for RV’ers)
  • More electric car charging stations.
  • Eliminate the sale of plastic disposable containers
  • Widespread adoption of water bottle refill stations.   
  • Replace aging trucks that are less fuel efficient than newer ones.  
  • We will work with IT to reduce computer boot up times to encourage turning machines off at night.
  • Revise work from home rules to allow staff to work from home during adverse weather conditions.
  • Reduce gas powered tools and equipment in favor of electric or rechargeable items.