Update On Cope Environmental Center Plans For A New Sustainable Building


The Cope Environmental Center (CEC) is in the pre-construction stage for a 6000 square- foot new sustainable environmental education center expected to be completed next year according to Alison Zajdel, Executive Director. This building will be a keystone project for Indiana’s bicentennial celebrations. Working with an architectural firm from Dayton, LWC, the plan is to have the first Indiana net-zero-energy building registered with the Living Building Challenge (LBC). This certification has the most rigorous green building standards in the world, even more rigorous than LEED. At this time, there are only five building in the US with the “Living Building” certification and CEC hopes to be the sixth. (However, there are approximately 200 projects currently registered that are seeking certification). The large multipurpose room will host many functions and permit accommodation of large groups of visiting school children since the room can be sub-divided into 3 areas holding 50 people each.

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.]

This public/private partnership between CEC, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Whitewater Valley Land Trust and Indiana Nature Conservancy is a keystone project of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration. Funds from the Bicentennial Nature Trust will be used to purchase and manage new lands adjacent to the center for use in environmental education. This will form part of a corridor of continuous, protected land extending south through the CEC to the Brookville Reservoir and Whitewater Memorial State Park.

The building will include a dedicated classroom for hands-on learning.

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.

Alison Clark Zajdel, Executive Director

4910 Shoemaker Road Centerville, IN 47330 765-855-3188

a.zajdel@copeenvironmental.org www.CopeEnvironmental.org


Submitted by Carolyn Vann