Case Study: Yellowstone National Park

YES! Initiative Positions the Park as an International Environmental Leader

In 2007, Ecova assisted Yellowstone National Park in developing the Environmental Stewardship Initiative, which positioned the park as an international leader in mitigating climate change while improving the environmental profile of park operations. The Initiative reaches beyond its peer programs by basing goals on clearly identified projects that are enabled by a strategic implementation plan, ensuring long-term success.

Yellowstone was the first national park in the world and is home to the largest intact ecosystem in the continental U.S. The Park contains 1,500 facilities and hosts more than 3 million annual visitors, requiring significant amounts of energy and water to operate and emissions to manage. Yellowstone is currently a Park Service leader in biofuels and recycling, but the Park wanted to go beyond these individual measures to create an integrated environmental initiative to extend the Park’s legacy of environmental leadership.

Working on behalf of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Ecova’s Sustainability Consulting Team performed a comprehensive evaluation of the Park’s environmental impacts, including a complete greenhouse gas emissions inventory, on-site facility audits and interviews of key Park stakeholders. This evaluation of energy, water, waste, procurement, transportation and business organization provided the baseline to identify and prioritize projects within the Initiative, all of which are designed to reduce the Park’s greenhouse gas emissions and ameliorate its environmental impact.

To determine the Park’s environmental performance baseline, Ecova conducted extensive research, including:

  • GHG emissions inventory
  • On-site audits of the built environment
  • Resource consumption analyses
  • Waste stream evaluation
  • Assessment of the water supply, water delivery and wastewater system
  • Stakeholder interviews with Park leadership and field staff
  • Exploration of international best practices



All recommended projects were developed in concert with key Park representatives and the Foundation working group in order to facilitate organizational acceptance and improve implementation success.

The 67 recommended projects in the Environmental Stewardship Initiative include:

  • Energy: 17 projects that will reduce energy costs by more than $766,000 per year
  • Water: 7 projects that will reduce annual water consumption by 56 million gallons
  • Waste: 10 projects that will divert an additional 576 tons of waste annually from landfills
  • Transportation: 10 projects that will reduce GHG emission by 175 MTCO2e a year
  • Procurement: 10 projects that will help the Park develop a comprehensive strategy to further reduce waste and associated GHG emissions
  • Leadership: 13 projects that will provide a clear directive to Park staff and empower all employees to contribute to the reduction of environmental impacts

Major annual benefits are:

  • GHG Reduction: 5,138.7 MTCO2e
  • Operational Cost Reduction: $1,301,5003

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