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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

Our Carbon Footprint is Shrinking

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to “Mitigation,” or reducing the levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is one way we are directly responding to a changing climate.

 The San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters office.Credit: USFWS

Many of our “green” efforts got at least some of their funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Service received $280 million in ARRA funds, and improving energy efficiency was an important goal behind some of the projects we funded.

During a tough economy, we put people back to work and supported conservation and sustainability. I am proud of that.

Our plan is to become carbon neutral by 2020. And to achieve that, our people are engaging in some truly innovative “green” work. The Department of the Interior’s 2012 Environmental Achievement Awards recognize a number of those projects:

  • The staff at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska increased energy efficiency decreased petroleum fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions across the refuge. One of the most innovative projects was installing a used-oil furnace in the automotive shop. Now the 300 gallons of used-oil that the refuge generates annually get burned to heat the maintenance shop.
  • The San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex turned its headquarters office into an energy-efficient building of the 21st century. Passive solar energy, occupancy sensors, low-flow plumbing and more all add up to a green building. A solar-thermal collector with an interior heat reservoir provides hot water to the building, which is consuming 52 percent less energy than the previous headquarters office building.
  • Staff at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Montana installed a hybrid solar photovoltaic and wind energy system at the refuge, the first of its kind in our Mountain-Prairie Region. The 25.4 kW system cut purchased electricity consumption 93 percent for the headquarters building in FY 2010. The refuge is saving about $4,000 per year as well as cutting energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Kooskia National Fish Hatchery in Idaho built a new egg incubation system that cuts electricity use, annual greenhouse gas emissions and well water use, and saves almost $33,000 annually. And the hatchery still produces its share of Spring Chinook salmon. 
  • Built on a former Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado knows all about sustainability. It started as native short grass prairie lands but became a toxic site as the U.S. Army made chemical weapons to support World War II. Environmental remediation and cleanup have returned it to native short grass prairie land. So when it built a visitor center, educating the public on land stewardship choices was key. The visitor center features a high solar reflective index roof, energy efficient exterior lighting, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and more.
  • When Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Washington had to renovate its heavy equipment maintenance building, staff emphasized conservation and sustainability. The retrofit includes a geothermal heat pump, solar-thermal HVAC system and more, enabling the maintenance building to cut energy consumption 32 percent. That saved $2,700 in 2010.

The Office and Visitor Center at Morris Wetland Management District in Minnesota. Credit: USFWS

Three Service facilities also received honorable mention in the awards:

Congratulations to all. We are shrinking the Service’s carbon footprint every day, and I have no doubt we’ll reach our neutrality goal.

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