Crissy Field Center Goes "Greener"

February 14, 2012


Media Contact
David Shaw, VP Marketing and Communications
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Center’s New Wind Turbines, Car Charger Boost Energy Research, Educate Youth

San Francisco, CA: The Crissy Field Center—an urban environmental education center at East Beach in the Presidio—is unveiling on Wednesday, February 15, the final pieces to its suite of sustainable technologies: five state-of-the-art wind turbines and an electric car charging station. With these additions, this facility is on track to attain LEED Platinum certification—making it one of the greenest buildings in America’s national parks.

The Center—a partnership project of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Presidio Trust—is housed in a 7,500 square foot interim building that includes classrooms and learning labs for schoolchildren and youth, as well as the Beach Hut Café, which is open to the public. With features like maximized natural lighting and recycled construction materials, the entire facility is a showcase of environmentally savvy design.

The new turbines and charging station—in addition to one of the most advanced building monitoring systems in the country—will provide invaluable data to the nascent field of renewable energy and help educate community members and young people about the latest sustainability solutions.

As a pilot project within the national parks to demonstrate energy innovations, this project aims to move the Center to net zero power consumption. Some of these “green” components include:

  1. Solar thermal panels: Will heat most of the water used at the Beach Hut Café by supplementing the traditional gas boiler.
  2. Rain catchment system: A 5,000-gallon system will provide over 50 percent of the water used in the Center’s toilets
  3. Photovoltaic systems or solar power panels: Will generate a substantial portion of the electricity used at the Center.  
  4. Wind turbines: Five new wind turbines, each 30 feet tall, are being installed in front of the Center to harness the 10 mph (on average) winds to help power the building. The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), which provided funds for the project, will glean data on the efficacy of three types of vertical axis turbines (in contrast to propeller-like “horizontal axis” turbines). These “vertical axis” turbines are designed to minimize noise and limit environmental impact, especially for birds and bats. The turbines are a pilot project intended to bolster real-world data in wind energy research, promote public interest in renewable technology, and generate clean power for Center operations.
  5. Electric car charger station: A free electric charging station is being installed by Adopt a Charger in collaboration with a grant from the National Parks Conservation Association and support from the National Park Service. This pilot program is designed to accelerate the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles throughout the proliferation of public, fee free electric car chargers which are “adopted” by sponsors. The station has secured funding for three years.

“Golden Gate National Parks is committed to sustainability,” said Frank Dean, General Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “Advancement of new technologies, rethinking park operations, and investing in our future by educating the next generation all contribute to our overarching goal of energy efficiency and conservation.” 

A custom designed monitoring system and “dashboard” designed by Loisos and Ubbelhode in conjunction with Project FROG and the Conservancy staff, will track energy production and consumption along with other aspects of the building’s performance. This will serve as a powerful education tool for the community by providing data in real time and also advance the Center’s existing robust science and sustainability solutions curriculum for youth. The goal is to offer the public information about local power generation with small-scale wind turbines and other sources. Students from Galileo Academy of Science and Technology will monitor the project’s energy efficiency as part of their environmental studies class in partnership with Crissy Field Center.

“The Crissy Field Center serves more than 20,000 students every year through its environmental education programs,” said Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “Today, the Center has taken another important step toward fulfilling its potential as a living laboratory for youth interested in pursuing green careers. Crissy Field was transformed in 2001 from an abandoned army site to a beautiful shoreline national park. And it continues to grow as a testament to the Bay Area’s ethic, dedication, and passion for environmental protection.”


About Our Funders
Several sources provided grants to help implement the Crissy Field Center’s renewable energy systems and sustainability features, plus related monitoring systems and curriculum development designed to incorporate these dynamic teaching tools into the Center’s award-winning educational programs for diverse teaching tools into the Center’s award-winning educational programs for diverse urban youth. The Ayrshire Foundation and Unilever supported the installation of a solar photovoltaic system with monitoring systems to track their performance. The Bothin Foundation supported a rainwater catchment system to supply the Center’s restrooms and a solar thermal system to provide hot water for the Center’s Beach Hut Café. Funding for the wind turbines and monitoring systems was provided by the Hawaii Energy Institute (HNEI).

About the Crissy Field Center
Dedicated to multicultural environmental education, Crissy Field Center strives to encourage new generations to become bold leaders for thriving parks, healthy communities, and a more environmentally just society. The Center is a partnership of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Presidio Trust. To learn more, visit or call 415 561 7752.

About the Presidio Trust
Responsible for the transformation of the Presidio from an historic army post into a premier national park that is financially self-sustaining, the Presidio Trust is leading the nation’s largest historic preservation project, restoring the park’s buildings and landscapes, and creating innovative programs. For more information, visit or call 415 561 5300.