FEMP Provides Technical Assistance to National Park Service for Sustainable Visitors Center

March 7, 2007

The National Park Service (NPS) recently completed a 7,270-squarefoot Contact Station at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York that showcases energy efficiency and renewable energy to millions of visitors each year. The project partially re-uses an existing structure, with limited expansion to minimize the overall footprint. Technologies include solar water heating, photovoltaics, and ground source heat pump systems, as well as passive solar and daylighting features. These design considerations are projected to result in annual energy savings of 378 million Btu—savings of 45 percent over a standard building—and annual cost savings of $6,900. The project has been recognized with five awards: Department of the Interior Environmental Achievement Award "Honorable Mention"; the National Park Service's Environmental Achievement Award; NER Superintendent's Conference Exemplary Recognition; the National Park Foundation Award for Sustainable Grants Program; and GSA Recognition for Sustainable Design.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, is an important urban wildlife refuge with more than 2.7 million visitors annually. Encompassing 9,155 acres, it is comprised of diverse habitats including salt marsh, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds, and an open expanse of bay and islands—all located within New York City limits. The facility reinforces and supports Gateway's core program for resource stewardship, environmental education, and recreation.

The project was completed in 2006. The NPS strives for the building to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) "Gold" certified. The Gold certification is pending. The project involved a broad partnership between NPS and Denver Service Center, the Federal Energy Management Program, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to solve technical and financial challenges. FEMP staff provided technical assistance through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), contributing to initial goal setting, value analysis, HVAC criteria, and review of energy-related equipment, products, and submittals during the construction and commissioning process. FEMP staff also helped assure building conformance to specified energy goals and LEED™ requirements. NYSERDA cost shared with FEMP for energy modeling, LEED™ specifications, and commissioning services by Steven Winter Associates. The financing for solar water heating, photovoltaics, and energy efficiency measures for the building came from several sources. The Energy10 computer program was used to set initial energy goals and the DOE2 program was used for subsequent energy modeling.

Jodie Petersen of the National Park Service noted that NREL's assistance was invaluable, stating, "FEMP is a key team member, and without their expert input the project would not be as successful."

For more information, please contact Andy Walker of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at mailto:andy_walker@nrel.gov or 303-384-7531.