Zion's New Visitor Center a Model of Energy Efficiency

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George Douglas, 303-275-4096
email: George Douglas

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 system.

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 include:

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 power outages.

For more information, see Zion National Park Visitor Center

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.

NREL—the Department of Energy's premiere laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research, development and deployment—also helped the National Park Service design energy efficient buildings for Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.

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