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A Focus on Sustainability

The Knoch Knolls Nature Center has meet the highest level of green building, LEED Platinum. The Nature Center features several water conservation and energy efficient systems.

What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This building certification process was developed in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.  They developed the program to promote environmental awareness among architects and building contractors by encouraging the use of sustainable materials in the design and construction of energy-efficient and water conserving buildings. It’s recognized across the globe as the ultimate achievement in green building.

How Does a Building Achieve LEED Certification?
LEED building certification is based on five key areas:

    • Sustainable site development
    • Water savings
    • Energy efficiency
    • Materials selection
    • Indoor environmental quality

The LEED process uses a points system to determine the environmental merits of a building. There are four levels of certification that depend on the design meeting certain key prerequisites and earning points. Points requirement start at forty for the certified status, 50 for silver, 60 for gold and 80 plus for platinum.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center Green Features

    • Highly insulated building shell to shield the building from heat and cold. The insulation in the walls is over 5” thick.
    • Innovative energy recovery system that can heat or cool areas of the building as needed.
    • Double-paned windows and windows that can be opened up near the ceiling and near the floor to allow heat to escape and cool air to enter.
    • Use of solatubes, a type of skylight, throughout the nature center along with a high clerestory window in interior office space allows natural lighting use, decreasing the amount of energy used for lights.
    • Automatic daylight harvesting system in the classrooms dims the electronic lighting when enough daylight is available.
    • Solar panels on the deck harvest energy from the sun to offset 13% of the energy demand.
    • Highly efficient LED light fixtures.
    • Green roof insulates to protects the building and reduces energy use. The roof captures storm water rather than directing it into gutters and sending it to the ground surface. Other benefits of the green roof include reducing pollution by capturing particulate matter in the plant material and improvements in air quality.
    • Living wall that acts as a biofilter, cleaning the air and recirculating it.
    • Carpet and other products, including office furniture, that are manufactured with a high percentage of recycled content and produce minimal chemical off gas.
    • Recycling of over 75% of all construction waste from the site, greatly reducing the amount of materials brought to landfills.
    • Motion activated lights.
    • Substantial water savings through the use of a 1,500 gallon rainwater collection system. The water will be used to flush toilets in the restrooms and to water the living wall.
    • Native vegetation on site, including prairie grasses, which conserve water, reduce maintenance and improve water quality of the river and stream by reducing erosion.
    • Permeable paver parking lot that allows rainwater to soak into the soil, reducing flooding, filtering out pollutants, and recharging the groundwater supply.

Benefits of a LEED Building

    • Costs less to operate and maintain
    • Uses fewer natural resources
    • Provides a healthy environment for staff and visitors
    • Promotes the use of recycled materials and the reuse of materials

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