Parks & Recreation Ongoing Energy Initiatives

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Solar panels at Lions Park shelter

Parks & Recreation is committed to promoting renewable energy development and reducing energy use. Following the county's programs, policies and practices reflecting a commitment to energy and environmental stewardship, Parks is in alignment with the county’s vision, mission and goals.

In 2016, Parks & Recreation participated in a two-year Partners in Energy program with Xcel Energy.  Working together, energy data was analyzed and an energy action plan was developed. The resulting “Green Spaces, Green Places” Energy Action Plan identified three main pillars of focus outlined below.

From 2016 to 2022, Parks implemented recommendations from the Energy Action Plan. 

Energy Efficiency

  • Installed building automation system at TCO Sports Garden during first year of ownership leading to an annual energy savings that exceeds $100,000.
  • Purchased innovative REALice system reducing energy cost for ice resurfacing at the TCO Sports Garden that led to an annual savings of $5,000.
  • Replaced traditional lighting in park restrooms and beach locker rooms with solar tubes and solar-powered LED lights, eliminating the need for electricity.  
  • Developed Green Ice Initiative to dramatically improve the energy performance of ice arenas which account for 85% of Parks energy use. Energy efficiency measures are combined with capital projects in order to achieve a significant return on investments.  View the Green Ice Initiative video
  • Installed low-emissivity ceilings at ice arenas that drastically reduced heat gain and therefore reduce refrigeration costs.
  • Required all proposals to include projected energy savings when purchasing an HVAC system for Aldrich Arena. 
  • Developing energy audits in ice arenas to help inform long term capital planning around R22 refrigerant system conversions and energy efficiency upgrades.

Renewable Energy

  • Commissioned a solar feasibility study on all Parks facilities to prioritize renewables in all long term planning.
  • Instituted net-zero energy design standards for park restroom, shelter and pavilion projects. To date, Lake Owasso County Park and Lions Park at Long Lake Regional Park have been redeveloped as net-zero energy facilities.
  • Installed solar panels at The Ponds at Battle Creek maintenance building, Parks Administration Building, Lake Owasso County Park and Lions Park at Long Lake Regional Park. 
  • Designing solar ready facilities:   
    • Roofs are designed to support future solar panels.
    • Electrical distribution systems are sized to accommodate future solar installations.
    • Where roof-mounted solar is not feasible, locations for future ground mounted installations are identified.
  • Evaluate all new park facilities for opportunities to utilize renewable energy sources such as geothermal heat.
  • Working toward a long-term goal of self-sustainable park facilities. This design would require no utility connections and would eliminate fossil fuel use.

Outreach & Education

  • Facilitated energy conservation and sustainability programming at Tamarack Nature Center day camps in partnership with Xcel Energy. Campers received energy kits containing LED bulbs, low flow shower heads and other energy efficient products along with instructions on how to implement at home.  At the end of the week, campers wrote and starred in their own video
  • Incorporated energy conservation into the Tamarack Nature Center preschool curriculum.
  • Promoting energy conservation and sustainability at ice arenas to educate residents on energy measures taken to reduce consumption.
  • Celebrate Energy Week annually to promote energy saving behaviors and strategies with staff.
  • Place energy conservation and sustainability messages on golf carts at our courses.

Next Steps

  • Update the Energy Action Plan with a focus on medium to long-term planning around the Green Ice Initiative.
  • Install LED lighting at the Battle Creek Winter Recreation Area.
  • Develop future capital investment requests to further reduce energy use.
  • Plan the redevelopment of Beaver Lake County Park as a net-zero facility.
  • Install building automation systems at the Parks administration building and ice arenas.
  • Implement the Green Ice Initiative at arenas.