National Wildlife Refuge System

Refuges Keep Going Green

Charles M Russel
San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, CA, transformed its headquarters office into a model of sustainability
Credit: USFWS

Five national wildlife refuges have been recognized for excellence in environmental, energy or economic performance.  2012 Environmental Achievement Award winners include:

  • The Greening of the Refuge
    • Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK, is recognized for outstanding organizational achievement in building and fleet energy efficiency.  This effort required superior teamwork and steadfast leadership.  Together, this dedicated staff instituted measurable changes in the areas of energy efficiency, decreased petroleum fuel consumption, and ultimately reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
      One example – Kenai Refuge uses sunflower-based chainsaw oil for wood cutting operations along its trails. The four-person trail crew uses about eight gallons of sunflower oil per season to maintain more than 300 miles of trails.
  • Headquarters Office Renovation
    • San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, CA, transformed its headquarters office building into a model of sustainability, consuming 52 percent less energy than the previous building. This saves 104 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually, offsetting 72 metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

      Salvaged cedar boards, heavy-timber beams, and useable portions of the original electrical system were incorporated into the building renovation.  About 75 percent of construction waste was recycled.  More than 60,000 visitors enjoy the benefits of this green building each year. 
  • Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic and Wind Energy System
    • Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MT, built a 25.4 kW hybrid solar photovoltaic and wind energy system at Benton Lake Refuge, the first of its kind in the Mountain-Prairie Region.  In FY 2010, the hybrid system resulted in a 93 percent decrease in purchased electricity for the headquarters building.

  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
    • Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO, was once occupied by the U.S. Army, which manufactured chemical weapons on the site during War II.  Waste handling procedures used at the time polluted the land, prompting its placement on the EPA's National Priorities List.  After a two billion dollar cleanup, the land has been turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and became habitat for more than 330 species of wildlife.

      The exhibit hall at the visitor center tells the remarkable story of how the lands at the Arsenal go full circle, from native short grass prairie lands with an abundance of wildlife, to a toxic site, through environmental remediation and cleanup, and back to the native short grass prairie land. 

  • Maintenance Shop Energy Retrofit
    • An integrated design team collaborated on the 6,000 square-foot, high-performance, heavy equipment maintenance building renovation at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, WA.  Renovation methods were simple and transferable, while ongoing operations and maintenance were easy and low-cost. The refuge offers public tours explaining its green building architecture and energy efficiency. A link from the refuge Web site provides ongoing real-time information about the renewable energy being generated by the solar PV systems.


Last updated: December 4, 2012