CEC enters Construction Stage for New Sustainable Education Center
Cope Environmental Center (CEC) is entering into the construction stage for a 6000 square- foot new sustainable environmental education center, which is the first Living Building Challenge project registered in Indiana. The LBC certification requires that the most advanced measures of sustainability be employed and is composed of seven performance areas or “Petals” of Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These Petals collectively comprise 20 imperatives. For example, to be a net zero energy facility the building must demonstrate that energy is harnessed only from on-site renewables such as wind, solar, or earth to meet all of the heating, cooling and electrical needs. Many facilities strive to attain net-zero-energy but the true performance of their buildings may be overstated and true net energy buildings are rare.
In addition, LBC certification requires all water to be sourced on site (wells or rainwater capture) and waste water to be treated on site. There are also limits to sprawling development and expectations of inclusion of “Beauty, Spirit and Inspiration + Education” to insure that the renewable energy system is incorporated into an attractive and inspiring building. The building must be occupied for one year with zero net energy and meet the other criteria to obtain the certification. [See the LBC website for certification criteria.]
The new LCB-certified building is expected to serve as the “trailhead” for Indiana’s Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area for thousands of students and visitors to learn about conservation and sustainability. Currently, in addition to hundreds of other visitors, all students in the 2nd grade in the Richmond area are required to participate in an environmental education unit at the CEC and their goal is to reach 50% of elementary children in Wayne County. The LCB-certified construction will not only host bicentennial activities but it will be important in extending Indiana’s sustainability footprint to additional natural, protected and educational areas within the state.