The George Washington University
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering Department (EMSE)
Environmental & Energy Management Program (E&EM)

Fall 2002 (Volume 3, Number 2)


George Washington University Awarded Research Grant to Conduct Long-term Environmental Sustainability Research for National Park Service

The George Washington University (GWU) recently signed a two-year cooperative agreement with the National Park Service (NPS) to begin research commencing with the fall 2002 semester. Under the leadership of the Environmental & Energy Management (E&EM) and the Software Engineering & Information Systems (SE&IS) Management Programs, GWU will assist the NPS in sustainability education, information dissemination, research and other projects in an effort to make the NPS a national leader in long-term sustainability.

In conjunction with NPS Representatives, the George Washington University will undertake a number of projects over the coming years aimed at meeting the following goals: (1) web-based communications and networking; (2) development and application of technology based sustainability tools, such as energy management, product life cycle analysis, and environmental data tracking and analysis tools; and (3) training and education to improve NPS sustainability. These efforts will be addressed toward professional NPS field staff personnel, other appropriate officials within the Department of the Interior, and park professionals at other levels of government (municipal and state park managers and staff members). Shawn Norton, NPS Environmental Leadership Program Coordinator, has led this initiative and will act as the point of contact on behalf of the Department of Interior.

The University will conduct the research completely in-house under the guidance of Dr. Theresa Jefferson (SE&IS) and Dr. Jonathan Deason (E&EM). The structure of the agreement calls for at least two graduate-level students to receive stipends to enhance their educational experience as a direct result of the project. Doctoral students Kathy Vallejos, Elvin Yuzugullu, and Nick Martin have been actively involved as research assistants and will continue to provide complementing expertise and experience in the environmental and information technology fields.

The research will begin with an initial baseline assessment of the NPS, in regards to the aforementioned goals of the project, conducted through questionnaires, interviews with park supervisors, and documentation and procedure reviews. From the results of this assessment, it is anticipated that continued research will address the following seven broad operational areas:

Transportation: Focus on concepts of sustainable transportation modes, fuels, and pathways, such as renewable and bio-based fuels, community based transportation planning, and fleet vehicle infrastructure and management.
Facilities Design and Construction: Focus on the built environment being as unobtrusive and compatible with the natural environment as possible.
Community Outreach: Focus on the park-community interface.
Facilities Operation and Maintenance: Focus on the utilization of “small footprint” methods and materials of facility O&M, such as the use of recycles content paper products and citrus-based cleaning solutions. Emphasis on “moving beyond compliance”.
Procurement and Contracting: Focus on goods and services provided to NPS by others being environmentally preferable.
Stewardship Education and Interpretation: Focus on imparting an understanding of the attainment of land stewardship through sustainable practices to park visitors.
Concessions: Focus on working with NPS concessionaires to provide services that are sustainable.

Over the next two years, the University will provide the results of its research efforts to the NPS through papers, educational materials, web sites, informational workshops and other appropriate information delivery mechanisms. It is the Project Teams belief that this partnership will position the NPS and GWU as leaders in environmental stewardship and sustainability. Further information on NPS’s sustainability initiative can be found at the NPS website.

article by:
Nick Martin
(E&EM DSc Student)

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Jonathan P. Deason, Ph.D., Lead Professor