RIT Professor Explores Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at National Parks




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Improving energy efficiency at national parks to conserve natural resources and save tax dollars is the goal of a project led by Rochester Institute of Technology professor James Winebrake.

Winebrake, associate professor and chair of RIT's Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy Department in the College of Liberal Arts, recently won a $532,567 grant from the National Park Service to stimulate energy efficiency and renewable energy use at the 375 national parks across the country. He and public policy graduate student Erin Green will focus on three objectives:

  • Analyze renewable-energy opportunities at parks by matching them with available renewable energy resources, such as wind or solar power

  • Analyze a park's utility bills to uncover cost-saving measures

  • Initiate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in parks to reduce the National Park Service's dependence on fossil fuels

“Our nation's parks are absolute gems,” Winebrake notes. “Yet, they contain old buildings and equipment that waste a lot of energy and, therefore, money. This work will uncover energy savings opportunities and help parks implement renewable energy projects that would otherwise be out of reach.”

In a related project, Winebrake, director of the University-National Park Energy Partnership Program, distributed $194,000 in the fall to seven universities to conduct energy audits at nearby national parks.