Where community and environmental literacy come together:
Relax. Sit down. Enjoy. Connect.

November 11, 2009

Member Highlight: Utah Botanical Center

At the beginning of October, I visited the Utah Botanical Center, which is a Utah State University Extension facility, as well as an Institutional Member of USEE. It is home to research and demonstration projects focused on sustainable living in the Intermountain West and houses an arboretum, the Utah House, and their newest addition, Wetland Discovery Point. Studies of water conservation, horticulture, water quality enhancement, wetland ecology, integrated pest management, urban forestry, agriculture, fish and wildlife, highway enhancement, and storm-water management combine to make the center a living laboratory.

The Utah House

I had never been to the Utah Botanical Center, and I was excited to explore the grounds, but I was mainly there to get a tour of their newly-built Wetland Discovery Point.

I met Mark Larese-Casanova, who is the Education Specialist for the Botanical Center and Chair of the Program Advisory Council Executive Committee at USEE, and he gave me the grand tour. Wetland Discovery Point is a Platinum LEED Certified building and features all kinds of innovative and educational sustainable practices. Every aspect of the building is designed to optimize the energy of the sun from the way the windows are positioned with the roof line in relation to where the sun is throughout the seasons, to the moving solar panels that automatically follow the sun across the sky during the day, like sunflowers, to optimize the amount of sunlight falling on the panels.

View of the Wetland from Wetland Discovery Point

Other features include a giant cistern that captures 90% of the rain and snow that falls on the roof (the other 10% flows back into the ponds), geo-thermal heating systems, and water conservation through the use of low-flow faucets and toilets that conserve 30% more water than other facilities – the water used in the toilets is from the roof’s rain barrel. The building is designed so efficiently that even though the building is equipped with heating and air conditioning, these only need to be used on the very coldest days of winter, or the most sweltering days in the summer.

Even though Wetland Discovery Point is one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the state, its main purpose is wetlands and water conservation and education. While I was there, the building crew was steadily working on getting the board walks finished. Wetland Discovery Point will be a fabulous place for students of all ages to learn and explore why wetlands are important, collect bugs and water samples right off of the boardwalks, and learn about water and energy conservation. The facility has already hosted a small number of field trips, and Mark is excited to really get the community more involved with the Wetland Discovery Point as the final touches come together. They were finishing up the boardwalks the day I was there:

In conjunction with the Wetland Discovery Point, Mark also showed me the Utah House. Their mission is to demonstrate, educate, and empower the public about new ways of building homes and creating landscapes that promote energy efficiency, water conservation, universal design principles, healthy indoor environments, and the sustainable use of all resources. The Utah House features many great opportunities of how to learn to make your own house more environmentally friendly, whether you are building a new house, or changing some things in an older home. Some of these learning opportunities include different ways to conserve water, both inside the house and out in the yard and garden, as well as solar water heaters, and a green roof on top of the storage shed:

I learned a lot about the both the Utah House and the Wetland Discovery Point on my visit. I learned not only about what the environmental education goals are for these educational facilities, but also learned a little about wetlands and energy and water conservations myself. I will definitely be back, and I encourage you all to head to Kaysville and check out what they have to offer.

The Utah Botanical Center, Utah House, and Wetland Discovery Point are located at 725 South Sego Lily Drive in Kaysville, Utah. For more information, please visit: http://utahbotanicalcenter.org/.

Wetland Discovery Point

For more pictures from the Utah Botanical Center, visit their Flickr account.

No comments: