Colorado Science Center Plans Green Campus

It seems fitting that a place meant to inspire a sense of stewardship towards the natural environment should embody good green building principles, and that’s the plan for the new Avon, Colorado, campus of the Walking Mountains Science Center. Since 1998, the center has offered educational programs and exhibits on the local ecology of the Vail valley to the general public, as well as public and private schools.

The new campus was designed by Zehren & Associates and Mithun architect firms and will be targeting LEED Platinum, the highest level of green certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Walking Mountains Science Center campus

image via Walking Mountains Science Center

Green features include a high efficiency, airtight building envelope with R-45 walls and a R-75 roof and windows that beat minimum code requirements by two to three times. Passive solar orientation of the buildings on this campus will help to take a load off heating and cooling systems while promoting natural ventilation, and roofs will host 33.4 kilowatt-hour-capacity solar panels. Solar thermal panels will provide for the building’s hot water needs (and some of its heating needs as well).

Three-stage radiant heating will be used to heat the buildings with maximum energy efficiency, via solar thermal, then a ground source heat pump and finally, a 95 percent efficient boiler. All finishes will be low-VOC for improved air quality, and the wood exterior will be Colorado harvested, beetle-kill pine.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of this summer.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.