Clean Cities Green Rides Toolkit: Getting Staff and Visitors on Board to Reduce Vehicle Emissions

You may already know transportation is responsible for more than one quarter of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States1, and that these GHG emissions are causing climate change impacts that threaten resources within our national parks and beyond. You may also know that the NPS is dedicated to reducing these emissions, not only from NPS sources, but also concessioner and visitor sources. But did you know that there are helpful and easily accessible tools available, at no cost, to help concessioners spread the word about vehicle emissions reduction goals and increase staff and visitor buy-in?

To strengthen vehicle emissions reduction efforts, the NPS has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities program through the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative. While concessioners are not eligible for grants under the initiative, the Green Rides Toolkit offers plenty of useful (and free) tools and information to help communicate successes, provide education on fuel-efficient driving habits, and engage staff and visitors in supporting petroleum use reduction goals. The toolkit includes documents and templates in PDF, MS Word, and MS PowerPoint formats that can be used directly or tailored to a concessioner’s operations. Customizable InDesign documents are also available upon request. These materials can help align staff so that everyone is working toward common reduction goals, and they can help create communications programs geared toward visitors.

In conducting GHG emissions inventories as part of the Climate Friendly Parks Program, park staff have found that emissions associated with visitor travel to and around parks tend to be significantly higher than park and concessioner emissions. It is therefore important to encourage visitors to get on board with emissions reduction efforts. The Green Rides Toolkit provides several tools aimed at increasing visitor engagement. Here are some ideas for ways concessioners can use these tools:

  • Visitor Pledge Form: When a visitor signature is required, such as for lodging check-ins or waivers for outdoor activities, concession staff can ask visitors if they would like to also sign the emissions reduction pledge form. Signing the pledge form can give visitors a greater feeling of personal responsibility for reducing their vehicle emissions.
  • Visitor Tip Card: When visitors register for a concessioner-operated activity or check in to lodging accommodations, staff can provide them with tip cards. Since the cards are two-sided, they would also work well in table tents at food establishments.
  • Driver Behavior and Idle Reduction Newspaper Inserts: Aside from local and community media, newspaper inserts can also be included in concession newsletters, guides, pamphlets, and other printed materials to encourage fuel-efficient driving.
  • Idle Reduction Poster: The idle-reduction posters can be posted in parking lots adjacent to concessions buildings. For example, a concessioner-operated hotel could post one in the driveway outside the hotel entrance to remind guest to avoid idling while unloading cars.

To support staff buy-in, the Green Rides Toolkit also includes tools geared toward employees. Included in the toolkit are a pledge form to hold staff accountable for their emissions reduction efforts, a fact sheet to help employees learn best practices for cutting petroleum use and reducing emissions, a sample email for concession managers to send to employees in support of alternative transportation practices, sample success stories to get concessioners excited about reducing emissions, and a presentation template that can be customized to help employees learn ways to reduce emissions. Additional tools and ideas for using them are outlined below:

  • Employee Tip Card: Since the tip cards are small and one-sided, they can be printed on adhesive paper and posted on the dashboards or inside the sun visors of concessioner vehicles.
  • Alternative Fuel Station Locator Instructions: The DOE’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator can be added to NPS concession operation websites. If you communicate instructions or information to visitors via email (for example, when confirming reservations), you can also include a link to the locator in the email.
  • Idle Reduction Decal: These can be printed on adhesive paper and placed in a variety of locations, including cash registers, service windows, and on the bumpers of concessioner vehicles.
  • Talking Points: Managers can use these talking points to engage staff, and staff can then communicate the information to visitors. The information can also be used in NPS concession social media.

The Green Rides Toolkit materials support objectives outlined in the NPS Climate Change Response Strategy, including Objective 9.2, which encourages concessioners to support alternative transportation and infrastructure. The toolkit also supports the Green Parks Plan “Green Our Rides” strategic goal, which was identified in the 2013 Green Parks Year in Review report as a focus for performance improvement in 2014. Since concessioners are urged to support these NPS policies, and since most contracts require “green ride” considerations, it is important to take action. Concessioners have been at the forefront of adopting new methods for reducing fuel consumption, and have served as models within national parks for increasing alternative transportation options. The Green Rides Toolkit now makes it easier to communicate those successes, engage employees to further reduce emissions, and inspire visitors to do their part within and outside of the park system.