On October 3, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined officials from the Department of General Services and Bureau of State Parks to highlight major energy- efficient upgrades at Ohiopyle State Park’s visitor center.
The heavily visited Fayette County facility is the first in the three-stop Sustainability Tour planned by the secretary to announce DCNR’s extensive, long-term investment in energy conservation.
“We have upgraded our lighting and HVAC systems in a building that already is at the highest efficiency standards,” said Dunn. “With these improvements to its LEED Gold visitor center, DCNR signals a commitment to sustainability that will see less electricity consumed in state park and forest buildings throughout Pennsylvania.
“Here at Ohiopyle, we expect an annual CO2 reduction of over 2,000 tons, that is the equivalent of planting 600 acres of forest every year. And, that is just the first step. Looking ahead to mid-2019, DCNR will begin infrastructure improvements benefitting about 50 state parks and 12 forest districts.”
Working in cooperation with the Department of General Services, and using the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA) program, DCNR contracted with Energy Systems Group of Portersville to provide infrastructure investments that will save $7.5 million over 20 years, the secretary said.
“Under the Wolf Administration, we have made significant strides in revising and revitalizing our energy savings and sustainability programs,” Department of General Services Deputy Secretary for Property and Asset Management Julien Gaudion said. “Through our work with agencies, including DCNR, we have reduced our overall energy consumption, while at the same time investing in $87 million in new construction and generating savings of $4.6 million annually.
The commonwealth currently has nine GESA projects underway. Once they are all complete, the energy savings from those projects will be the equivalent of planting more than 37,000 trees annually or removing more than 3,100 cars from the road for a year.
Secretary Dunn noted DCNR oversees more than 4,500 buildings in its parks system, more than a hundred wastewater treatment facilities, and thousands of vehicles, and spends millions of dollars a year in electricity.
“When we started DCNR’s Sustainability Initiative in 2015, we knew there were many opportunities to save money and reduce our carbon footprint,” Dunn said. “I am proud to say our team has gotten off to a fast start and is already making a big impact. These improvements here at Ohiopyle are a key part of this important work in sustainability — a major beginning if you will, in bigger and better things to come.”
Over $200,000 in LED lighting upgrades and building insulation/weatherization improvements have been installed at the visitor center to replace high-efficiency fluorescent lighting, further enhancing efficiency/sustainability. Additionally, park-wide LED upgrades include barns, cottages, maintenance facilities, residences and yurts.
Continuing her “Sustainability Tour,” Dunn was to visit Moraine State Park on Thursday to help dedicate a solar power installation that will save the Butler County park $25,000 annually by providing enough energy to operate its sewage treatment plant. On Friday, she will visit Prince Gallitzin State Park, where an electric charging station has been installed to service the Cambria County park and its visitors.
As the state’s leading conservation agency, DCNR strives to follow practices that conserve and sustain natural resources. Through its green and sustainable initiative, DCNR exemplifies best practices through its buildings, vehicle fleet, purchases, land management and business operations.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks visit the DCNR website.