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The Greening of the Refuge Team




Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska

Point of Contact

Andy Loranger
(907) 262-7021
andy_loranger@fws.gov

Summary

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) 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.  Kenai NWR implemented cradle-to-grave management of motor vehicle oil by installing a used-oil furnace in the automotive shop.  It also implemented a number of energy efficiency measures including installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs, electronic fluorescent light ballasts, and boilers with web-based control system.  Four inefficient trucks were replaced by trucks with better fuel efficiency.  Kenai NWR supports sustainable acquisition through training for purchase card holders, web resources on its intranet, and inclusion of environmental management systems requirements in construction contracts.  Kenai NWR also uses sunflower-based chainsaw oil for the trail crew's wood-cutting operations.  The trail crew also uses backpack-sized solar powered cells to recharge radio and power drill batteries, eliminating the need to carry and operate a gasoline-powered generator.

Description

In a typical year, the refuge generates up to 300 gallons of used-oil during maintenance and operation of 50 refuge vehicles and 11 heavy equipment items. This used oil is shipped from the automotive maintenance shop to be recycled by other entities. The transport of these used-oil barrels increases the carbon footprint for one of the refuges critical maintenance processes. To address this issue, the refuge implemented cradle-to-grave management of motor vehicle oil by utilizing a used-oil furnace recently installed in the automotive shop. The used oil is now burned to generate heat for the maintenance shop during Alaska’s nine months of winter.

Several indoor and outdoor lighting projects were undertaken at the refuge to eliminate older high-wattage bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient bulbs. Over 45 light bulbs were replaced with LED technology in the 1,800 square foot Visitor Center. In addition, the refuge directed contractors to replace mechanical ballasts with electronic ballasts in 60 overhead fluorescent light fixtures. In the Visitor Center parking lot, the refuge replaced energy consuming, High Pressure Sodium lights with LED technology. Within the Headquarters building, two 35,000 BTU natural-gas-fired boilers, which date back to 1981, were replaced with new energy efficient boilers. This state-of-the-art technology is computer based and web accessible which allows unprecedented flexibility in programming to account for warm spells, days and weekends, peak occupancy, and low occupancy days.

The refuge replaced four inefficient trucks that were averaging 12 miles per gallon with newer energy efficient trucks that get an average of 22 miles per gallon. The newer trucks have just as much cargo capacity as the previous vehicles both being mid-sized trucks.

Green purchasing was enhanced through the adoption of real-time training for purchase card holders. In addition, a web link was created on the refuge intranet which connects users to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to access greening standards and products. Construction contracts that were let in 2010 all had environmental management system (EMS) language in them to ensure contractors are following the refuges environmental management plan and are also being held accountable for greening on the refuge within the scopes of their projects.

For the third year in a row, the refuge is employing sunflower-based chainsaw oil for wood cutting operations being accomplished by the trail crew. The four-person trail crew is using approximately eight gallons of sunflower oil per season in their chainsaws to do trail maintenance on over 300 miles of trails to include front country and wilderness trails. The fact that every ounce of chainsaw bar oil that is used remains in the woods makes this a critical item. The trail crew also utilized alternative energy sources while doing spike camps on the refuge. Frequently, when a crew must camp in the back country, batteries run low for critical communications radios and other power equipment. For this reason, a gasoline powered generator must be brought out the field to re-charge batteries. The trail crew acquired backpack-sized solar powered cells that generate enough electricity to recharge radio batteries and power drill batteries.

Results and Achievements

Utilizing a used-oil furnace greened the refuge. Now, instead of shipping used-oil out, the used-oil is burned to generate heat for the 1,600 square foot auto shop. This eliminates a liquid waste stream, cuts energy costs, and improves the work-place by providing faster recovery of heat. Prior to this new furnace, the old worked overtime to recover heat-loss when the 16 foot bay doors had to be opened during winter. This additional furnace cut heat recovery time by two thirds, used less natural gas, and maximized the use of oil that is already on-site--being generated while servicing over 60 refuge vehicles and heavy equipment.

Over 45 light bulbs were replaced with LED technology, improving the appearance of the visitor center displays, cutting the frequency of replacement of bulbs by two-thirds, and producing an 86% energy savings. The replacement of mechanical ballasts with electronic ballasts in 60 overhead light fixtures resulted in a 30% energy savings. The replacement of energy consuming, high pressure sodium lights with LED technology cut power consumption in the 30,000 square foot parking lot by three-fourths.

The replacement of two 35,000 BTU natural-gas-fired boilers increased energy efficiency in the 10,000 square foot headquarters building. These new boilers capture more heat energy resulting in an efficiency rating increase from 84% to 94%. This means 10% more natural gas becomes heat than with the old boilers. This technology is computer based which allows unprecedented programming to account for warm spells, days and weekends, peak occupancy, and low occupancy days. It is a web-accessible program and saves maintenance hours, response time, and ultimately greenhouse gas emissions.

The replacement of four trucks that were averaging 12 miles per gallon with newer trucks that average of 22 miles per gallon increased fuel economy 83%. This was not at the cost of vehicle utility as the newer trucks have just as much cargo capacity as the previous vehicles while increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The adoption of real-time training for purchase cardholders enhanced tracking of Green purchasing across the refuge. The web link on the refuge intranet connecting users to the Environmental Protection Agency website for greening standards was a huge hit among purchasers making purchasing green products a snap. Including EMS language in construction contracts ensured contractors are being held accountable for greening on the refuge within the scope of their projects.

The use of sunflower based chainsaw oil for wood cutting prevented eight gallons of petroleum-based chainsaw oil from staying in the woods each year. This eliminated a residual petroleum waste stream on over 300 miles of refuge trails to include front country and wilderness trails. The trail crew’s utilization of backpack-sized solar powered cells prevented hauling a gasoline powered generator out to the field to re-charge communications radios and other power equipment. This effort not only eliminated the need to use a generator burning fossil fuels, but lightened the backpack load by almost 30 pounds, thus improving employee morale.

Replicability

Many of the projects listed in this nomination can be applied to other federal facilities. By applying EMS principles to the problem of facility operation, green solutions may be found, exemplified by the use of sunflower oil in the chainsaws (which can be left behind because it is biodegradable) and solar-powered backpack communications recharging units reduced the need for gasoline-power generators in the field. This project is a model of green thinking being applied to all aspects of facility operation, and confirms the applicability of EMS principles to facility operations.