National Park Service's Assateague Island National Seashore Project a Model of Sustainable Design
August 1, 2002
On June 7, 2002, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for Assateague Island National Seashore's sustainable bathhouse project. Located in Toms Cove District, Virginia, the bathhouse project is one of several environmentally sustainable design construction projects currently underway at the National Park Service's Assateague Island National Seashore, which serves 2 million visitors annually. Developing cost-effective, environmentally responsible roadways, parking lots, bathhouses, and visitor facilities on the southern end of the island are important goals of the project.
The cost-effective measures installed on Assateague Island this summer include several innovative elements. Faced with a rapidly moving shoreline and the unsuitability of conventional structures, lightweight cabana structures were developed, which are easy to set-up and dismantle, also allowing easy removal from the beach during pre-storm evacuations.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels were installed in easily-transportable trailers to provide solar-electric powered pumps. The PV systems were chosen, not only because of the fiscal and environmental benefits of renewable energy, but because the systems could be portable. The solar-powered water-pumping trailers acquired through SunWize Technologies feature self-contained power and controls, which power the permanently installed well pumps as well as the mobile toilet by Romtec, Inc. and cabana lighting systems.
The PV systems also allowed for the removal of unsightly and dangerous overhead power lines which were tenuously strung along a rapidly moving landform. Removing the overhead power lines, in turn, has not only helped to restore a more naturally appearing coastal landscape to this site, but has helped to recreate habitat for the piping plover, a bird which is on the list of Federally-protected threatened and endangered species.
Other features of the Assateague Island bathhouse project include prefabricated vault toilets, equipped with a passive ventilation system, which have been purchased and modified to facilitate rapid removal from the beach. Crushed clamshells, a waste product from the local seafood industries, have also been used to pave the island's roadways.
The Assateague Island project serves as a model of sustainable bathhouse architecture, which other Park Service units may emulate. Mike Hill, Superintendent of Assateague Island National Seashore, said "It's good! It's what we're all about."
In addition to the sustainable bathhouse project, Assateague has partnered with several FEMP programs for multi-year projects. For instance, FEMP's SAVEnergy audits have assisted with prioritizing cost effective measures for energy efficiency upgrades at the Park's Headquarters facility. FEMP's Federal Energy Saver Showcase and Technical Assistance Programs have provided evaluations for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures at two visitor facility rehabilitation projects. The Park Service's collaboration with FEMP is keeping Assateague a greening success story.
For more information, please contact Chris Finlay of the National Park Service at 410-641-1443, ext. 242 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Sara Farrar-Nagy of NREL at 303-384-7514 or email@example.com.