Golden, Colo., May. 26, 2000 - The energy efficient design of the new Zion
Canyon Visitor Center and Transportation Center at Zion National Park in
Utah saves money, reduces the buildings' impact on the environment and
brings more of the outdoors inside. The building and Zion's new bus
transportation system will be dedicated today.
Buildings energy experts from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provided cutting-edge technologies for
the visitor center complex -- the hub for the park's new transportation
The shuttle bus system will carry visitors from Springdale, Utah, to the
new visitors center and from there into Zion Canyon. More than 2.5 million
people a year visit the park, overwhelming the scenic canyon with traffic,
frustrating park-goers with noise and air pollution and damaging natural
resources. The bus system was designed to relieve this frustration and
enhance the visitor experience.
Most park-goers will pass through the visitor center, where energy efficient
features will save about $14,000 a year. Notable energy saving measures
Trombe walls: Most of the heat for the center comes from a Trombe wall.
Heat from the sun is trapped between a pane of glass and a black coating. A
masonry wall stores the heat for release into the building later in the day.
Daylighting: The primary source of light for the building is daylight,
which comes in through clerestory and other windows. When there is not
enough sunlight, the building's energy management computer adjusts electric
light to provide only the amount of additional light needed.
Natural ventilation: The visitor center was designed so that overhangs and
the building's configuration block most of the windows from the summer sun.
When the clerestory windows are open, cooler air naturally flows through the
building, forcing the warmer air out. The energy management computer
automatically opens the clerestory windows when the building is too warm.
Passive downdraft cooling tower: When natural ventilation is not enough,
cooling towers help reduce the temperature at the Zion National Park Visitor
Center. Water is circulated over pads at the top of the tower. As the water
evaporates, it cools the air. The cool air "falls" through the tower into
In addition to the energy efficient features, much of the visitors center's
electricity comes from photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof. These solar
panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, some of which is stored
in batteries. Any excess electricity from the PV system is sold to the local
power company. Some of the energy is stored in the batteries for use during
Ron Judkoff, the director of NREL's Center for Buildings and Thermal Systems
and NREL senior engineer Paul Torcellini are the principal researchers
working on the project.
NRELthe Department of Energy's premiere laboratory for renewable energy
and energy efficiency research, development and deploymentalso helped
the National Park Service design energy efficient buildings for Grand Canyon
and Yosemite National Parks.
CLEAN ENERGY FOR THE 21st CENTURY
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