New Jersey’s State Parks Get Even Greener Through Energy Conservation

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Photo credit: Manohar Dasari

TRENTON — Some of the DEP’s greenest places — its state parks — will become even greener when it comes to energy efficiency, Commissioner Bob Martin announced Wednesday.

A host of long-term, energy saving improvements that were identified in an audit of select high energy use buildings in 14 state parks will be implemented beginning this year, with a potential savings of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars annually, a cut in fuel use and reduction in polluting emissions.

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“Our state parks are showcases of New Jersey’s natural beauty and historical significance,” Martin said. “This further greening of our parks is an important step toward ensuring that they also are models of energy efficiency in the future. We aim to set an example for the entire state.”

The audit recommends such measures as replacing inefficient windows and heating and cooling systems; upgrading thermostats; installing renewable energy power sources and solar photovoltaic systems; and retrofitting lighting.

These energy-saving improvements should lower the park system’s energy bill by $257,000 each year. Also, they should greatly lower energy consumption, including a reduction of 661,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 83,000 gallons of fuel oil annually, while reducing CO2 emissions by 367 metric tons each year.

DEP has allocated $2 million to implement these recommendations, with construction planned to begin later this year. The long-term savings will far exceed construction costs, while improving the environment.

In a separate project, an already planned energy system upgrade at the Pequest and Hackettstown Fish Hatcheries in Warren County is expected to save more than $300,000 a year in energy costs.

“One of my priorities is to ensure that New Jersey’s state parks remain open and accessible to our residents,” said Martin. “Energy efficiency is one way to achieve operational cost savings while providing an environmental benefit.”

The energy audit specifically targeted energy consumption of park structures, including offices, maintenance facilities and interpretive buildings. It is the latest in a series of steps by the DEP to improve energy conservation at State Park Service facilities, which have faced utility price increases of about 20 percent in recent years.

Adhering to green design principles is a department priority to create energy-efficient facilities and buildings, whether new or existing.  Any new facilities, such as cabins, will be designed to use recycled water for toilets and solar panels will be installed for hot water.

Monmouth Battlefield State Park was one of the first to receive a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system, and other sites have followed suit, including historic Rockingham in Kingston and the Batsto Mansion and Visitors Center in Wharton State Forest.

Also, the Batsto Visitors Center was renovated using the Green Building Council’s LEEDs principles, featuring the use of recycled materials in the construction of the expanded space; energy-saving controlled lighting; and reduced water consumption, energy efficient appliances.

At Island Beach State Park, restrooms at the southern end of the park are completely self-sustaining through the combined power of a windmill and solar energy, and solar panels are used at the main swimming pavilion to heat the water for the showers and sinks.

Energy conservation measures also are moving forward at the Pequest and Hackettstown Fish Hatcheries. A recent energy audit there recommended upgrades to heating, cooling and power systems, plus lighting and insulation improvements, which could save 745,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 16,000 gallons fuel oil each year.

State parks and forests included in the recent energy audit are Allaire State Park, Belleplain State Forest, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Cheesequake State Park, Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, Fort Mott State Park, High Point State Park, Island Beach State Park, Parvin State Park, Liberty State Park, Ringwood State Park, Washington Crossing State Park, Wharton State Forest and Worthington State Forest.

Future audits will be conducted on additional state parks and forests as the first phase of improvements are implemented.


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