The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently reported on the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (NHP). It is an 826-acre urban site in San Antonio, Texas and contains the largest collection of Spanish colonial cultural resources in the United States and attracts 1.3 million visitors yearly. The park staff works diligently to uphold the long tradition of resource conservation. David Vekasy, San Antonio Missions National Historical Parkβs chief of facility management, began looking into fleet re-sizing and other ways to cut back emissions.
In 2003, park management began to replace conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles with smaller, lighter vehicles that use less fuel, and began researching alternative fuel vehicles and equipment. Propane-fueled mowers was a topic at a Clean Cities alternative fuel’s event in Austin, TX.
The park took on the challenge, replacing all three of its gasoline-powered grooming mowers. In 2008, funding was authorized for two propane-powered 72-inch mowers that arrived in July. Subsequently, AACCC and Metro Lawn, a third party, helped arrange for the remaining conventional mower to be converted to propane at no cost to the park.
These three units are still in operation today as the park’s entire fleet of grooming mowers. The gasoline mowers had used about 800 gallons of fuel per year, so the switch to propane has enabled the park to reduce its consumption of gasoline by 4,000 gallons over the past five years. Fuel costs savings have totaled $1,000 per year. The propane mowers are expected to eliminate some 288,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over their estimated 15-year lifecycles.
With the implementation of the propane mowers, the park has become a local leader in deployment of propane in landscaping operations. The park will host the annual commercial propane mower educational event for the fourth time in October 2013.
In January 2013, San Antonio Missions NHP became the first national park in Texas to meet the requirements of the Climate Friendly Parks (CFP) program. CFP is one component of the National Park Service Green Parks Plan, an integrated approach by NPS to address climate change through implementation of sustainable practices.