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Brian L. Cook

Sustainability Hero, Southeast Regional Office, National Park Service, Georgia

Point of Contact

Brian L. Cook
(404) 507-5605


Commander (CDR) Brian Cook, the National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Regional Sustainability Manager, has a multitude of sustainability accomplishments.  He was instrumental in promoting, developing and managing energy audits for Southeast Region (SER) park units.  This made the SER the first region in the NPS to complete energy audits for all regional park units and use audit results to select energy-savings projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  CDR Cook assisted in all phases of the installation of a 50 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefields Visitor Center.  The system meets the electrical needs of the center even on most cloudy days, and it generates credits for the park unit's utility account through an agreement with their electrical cooperative.  CDR Cook also developed a Green Purchasing Tool to assist the region's employees in making sustainable choices in their acquisitions.  In addition, CDR Cook has hired and worked with students to educate them on the importance of sustainability and the impact climate change has on the NPS.


CDR Cook applied for and received a grant from the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program to develop various aspects of the regions sustainability program. The subsequent collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):

  1. Developed a robust interpretive campaign (i.e., two large floor displays, templates for roadside signage and fliers, a sustainability theme and logo) to support the sustainability message at SER park units,
  2. Identified the best geographic sites that could support renewable energy (i.e., wind and solar) systems within the SER,
  3. Developed a metering guidance document for facilities,
  4. Developed guidance on reducing fugitive high global warming potential gases, and
  5. Wrote a white paper on the challenge of renewable energy interconnection agreements between park units and utilities.

These efforts have placed the Region in a position to exceed the sustainable mandates outlined in Executive Orders 13423 and 13514. CDR Cook developed the first Regional Sustainability Strategic Performance Plan (SSPP) working in partnership with NREL experts, Environmental Protection Agency experts, Regional Staff, and Facility Managers from SER park units. His work with the Regional Cyclic Maintenance Program coordinator resulted in emphasizing sustainability project attributes to increase the chance of funding sustainable projects. CDR Cook led a regional environmental management team to develop the NPSs second regional environmental management system (EMS). The team is comprised of regional contracting, commercial services, interpretation, and facilities experts, and includes eight goals split between sustainability and environmental compliance.

CDR Cook also developed a new SharePoint site to further the EMS's goals and provide support to the park units programs. The site contains individual park folders for organization, hyperlinks and dates for regular data calls, extensive programmatic and EMS guidance, and tools and templates for facility-level programmatic development. He also developed a regional Green Purchasing Tool (GPT), the focus of which is a "pick list" of products. Each product is assigned a colorimetric rating after being subjected to the tools comprehensive review process based on federal guidance and product characteristics. Each green product nomination is made by a park unit employee and the colorimetric score is a function of the employee feedback. When the EMS, website, and GPT were complete, CDR Cook administered five virtual training classes that reached over 60 SER employees.

CDR Cook created a cooperative agreement between the Southeast Regional Office (SERO) and nearby Georgia State University, enabling him to hire two student interns through Federal Work Study (a federal financial aid program). CDR Cook also hired a master's student intern through the Greening Youth Foundation. These collaborations have resulted in excellent project results, including, but not limited to:

  1. Expansion of the environmental and sustainability SharePoint site,
  2. Development of a recycling tool,
  3. Development of a regional Long-Term Interpretive Program for Sustainability, and
  4. Assistance to the Blue Ridge Parkway in submitting a Clean Cities grant for sustainable fleet augmentation, which brought in over $200,000.

CDR Cook has performed all of these tasks while also serving as the Regional Environmental Coordinator (until August 2011), essentially performing dual functions. His performance has been outstanding, and he fully deserves consideration as a Sustainability Hero.

Results and Achievements

CDR Cook has achieved the following results:

  • Wrote a scope of work (SOW) and led the hiring team to award the NPSs first region-wide energy audit contract. CDR Cook also managed the energy audit contract, which resulted in energy audit reports for 100% of the SER park units, two energy retro-commissioning reports for large buildings, and a regional summary report.
  • Successfully garnered over $1.1 million of ARRA funds for SER energy projects, including implementation of energy audit findings at four large SER parks (MACA, TIMU, EVER, and MALU). The post-project measured water savings were 98% of those predicted by the audit and the electrical savings were 178% of those predicted (not normalized for weather or potential confounding factors). CDR Cook guided and assisted Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in the conception, planning, and contract award (in the amount of $849,000) for an energy-retrofit and 69 kW roof-mounted photovoltaic array on the Parks visitor center.
  • Obtained a grant from DOE to develop a sustainability interpretative campaign, identify best available sites for renewable energy projects, author a metering plan guidance document, and produce a reduction plan for high global warming potential greenhouse gases.
  • Oversaw the development of the first Regional Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and presented to the SER Superintendents at their annual conference.
  • Oversaw the development and finalization of the NPSs second regional EMS, comprised of four sustainability goals and four environmental compliance goals.
  • Administered five virtual training classes covering EMS development, a new SharePoint site, and the regional Green Purchasing Tool. The classes reached over 60 SER employees.
  • Coordinated the development of detailed sustainability criteria for use in the Regular Cyclic Maintenance Program.
  • Developed and edits the Green Gazette, a regional newsletter whose purpose is to inform NPS personnel about ongoing sustainable and environmental compliance efforts in the SER and educate them about technical issues and current trends. By the end of FY11, 4 Green Gazettes newsletter and 41 articles had been published. A fifth newsletter has been published since.


CDR Cook has convened and launched an environmental management team, composed of representative regional staff members to effectively implement and maintain the regional EMS. The team created the EMS with the requisite components of Directors Order 13A and selected goals in support of the draft Green Parks Plan, EO 13423 and EO 13514. He has guided and also lessons learned from the other regions environmental managers, who are at various stages of developing their regional EMSs.

CDR Cook oversaw project work conducted by the facility manager (FM) of Fort Pulaski National Monument as part of her practicum to complete her Master of Science degree in Environmental Science. He mentored her for four weeks, including a week in the SERO. As a result of this collaboration, the FM's main project was the creation of a hazardous waste handling station for park unit use. CDR Cook has mentored all of the program managers in the SER Regional Facilities Support Division regarding ways to develop sustainable criteria in their program areas. His efforts resulted in revision of the Regular Cyclic Maintenance Program, to include a sustainability scoring component, which was first rolled out in the 2010 Service-wide Comprehensive Call.

CDR Cook continues to work with other SERO divisions to develop similar program scoring criteria in their program areas. He also works with two undergraduate students from Georgia State University to educate them on the importance of sustainability and the impact climate change has on the National Park Service.