Point Reyes National Seashore

Using Our Wits to Save Watts, National Park Service, California

Point of Contact

David Brouillette
(415) 464-5153


Point Reyes National Seashore is an active leader in promoting and practicing sustainable operations and climate change mitigation.  Point Reyes has set goals and objectives using its environmental management system (EMS) to reflect the requirements of Executive Orders 13423 and 13514, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007, and National Park Service Directors Orders.  It has implemented a variety of sustainable practices and programs in the area of energy management and energy conservation.  Point Reyes identified and implemented energy conservation programs and the installation of six photovoltaic systems throughout the park.  Energy efficient lighting and occupancy sensors were installed under a Utility Energy Savings Contract (UESC).  Point Reyes uses EPA's Portfolio Manager to document energy consumption, see consumption trends and troubleshoot large energy spikes.  Point Reyes also designed and constructed the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hostel in the country.


The first project implemented was a partner-project with our utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric Company. In this project we conducted a lighting inventory at all of our park buildings. The inventory proved that many of our fixtures and ballasts were out-of-date and energy inefficient. In December of 2010, the utility company along with park Buildings and Utilities staff changed out each inefficient lamp and ballast and installed occupancy sensors and timers. The project was implemented under a UESC. The funding for the project was 30% regular cyclic maintenance, the other 70% was leveraged California Public Utilities Commission rebate funds.

The second project implemented was the installation of six photovoltaic systems. In this project we inventoried all of our buildings energy use and identified which buildings were "energy hogs", and then we contracted out the design and installation of the six systems. These new six systems are in addition to our existing seven photovoltaic systems. The funding for this project was 2009 Economic Recovery-Deferred Maintenance funds.

The third project implemented was the use of EPAs Portfolio Manager. The Portfolio Manager is a database of energy consumption for all buildings at Point Reyes and helps staff see consumption trends and troubleshoot large energy spikes. The database was implemented by Buildings and Utilities staff and a Sonoma State University Energy Management Intern.

The fourth, and final project Implemented was the design and construction of a LEED certified Youth Hostel. This building is the first LEED certified hostel structure in the country. The new housing unit consists of our guest bedrooms, one guest common area, a storage room, two half-baths, and two full-baths. Staff accommodations include two bedrooms, one full-bath, one half-bath, and a staff common room that includes a kitchen area. The youth hostel has all energy-star appliances, LED lighting, efficient heating pumps, and a 6.895kW photovoltaic system to offset residential and visitor use. The funding for this project was 2009 Economic Recovery-Construction funds.

Results and Achievements

By changing out our inefficient lights and ballasts, and the installation of occupancy sensors and timers, it is calculated that Point Reyes National Seashore will save $8.796.56 a year in utility costs. Also, the lighting upgrade will prevent 15.86 metric tons of Greenhouse Gases from being emitted by using more energy efficient equipment. Additionally, the project Increased staff awareness of energy conservation measures being implemented by The National Park Service and inspired some individual employees to change out lighting at their residences. By adding six additional photovoltaic systems to our renewable energy portfolio, Point Reyes National Seashore now generates 25% of its net electrical demand on-site by clean, renewable means. This is an annual savings of $16,000 in utility charges and prevents 29.28 metric tons of Greenhouse Gases from being emitted. The long-term benefit of generating energy on-site is we will not be affected by the unstable future of energy costs in the state of California. Also, the photovoltaic systems will be used in the future to educate our visitors on how the National Park Service is mission-driven to be sustainable in its operations.

While the use of EPA's portfolio manager may not sound very exciting, it continues to serve as a very useful tool to analyze energy consumption trends for Point Reyes National Seashore. Energy reporting, required annually, is now a simple process that is achieved in a few quick mouse clicks. Additionally, portfolio manager was used to verify and award one of the first Energy Star Certified buildings in the National Park Service, the Administration building In Point Reyes National Seashores Bear Valley Headquarters area. Also, portfolio manager is being identified on the WASO-Ievel as a useful tool for all NPS units and there is work being done currently to tie the Facility Management Software System (FMSS) to Portfolio Manager. The ultimate goal is to provide building energy consumption information to facility managers so they can make informed decisions to implement energy conservation measures. The Youth Hostel operation will provide low-cost overnight visitor accommodations to support the Seashore General Management Plan (Plan).The photovoltaic system attached to the building is designed to offset 12,000 kWh per yr which calculates to $2,160 per yr in utility savings. The long-term benefit of generating energy on-site is we will not be affected by the unstable future of energy costs in the State of California.


The lighting retrofit has been replicated at John Muir National Historic Site, Pinnacles National Monument, and is being considered at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. All parks are able to enter into UESCs with their utility companies to benefit from energy conservation measure implementation projects. Additionally, simple lighting retrofits are rather Inexpensive and could be replicated at all NPS-units. Information on the success of the lighting retrofit has been shared through the Pacific West Regions "GreenVoices", the 2011 Green Purchasing Topical Webinars, and Point Reyes' Sustainability Newsletter, "A Few Green Points" (all available via insideNPS).