The Nature Conservancy: Part of the Natural Environment

This past week the Indiana University Office of Sustainability interns took a trip up to Indianapolis to learn about three companies working in the sustainability field. They included: Energy Solutions, Republic Recycling Center, and finally The Nature Conservancy. As we walked the halls the Efroymson Conservation Center, home of the Indiana Nature Conservancy, I felt as though I wasn’t in an actual building. This may sound strange, but bear with my explanation. Typically, an individual walks from the “outside” into a building- making them “inside.” When I walked in, however, nothing seemed to change. It was as if the Center was within, and part of, the natural environment, rather than separate from it. Here’s why.

The building was designed to be LEED Platinum certified, the highest level of ranking. It incorporates many “green” features focusing on energy use, water use, stormwater management, and other various attributes. The building utilizes geothermal heating and cooling, smart lighting systems, raised floors, and is insulted greatly. The bathrooms contain waterless urinals, and rainwater is collected which is used to water a surrounding nature area that is filled with native and non-invasive plants. Furthermore, the parking lot, which features wind turbines, has permeable pavement and is slanted so water flows to the nature area. Additionally, the building does not tap into the city’s stormwater drainage system, saving the city money.

What’s even cooler is that the building is constructed with many materials that were found on site from the previous building. Other building materials include Indiana hardwood and Indiana limestone, staying as local as possible. On top of the building there is a green roof, covered with beautiful flowers of of all sorts of colors.

From this brief descriptive, you can now begin to understand why I felt as though I had never left the “outside.” The building was part of the natural environment, rather than separate from it. I couldn’t help but imagine how great my work day would be if I felt like I was working “outside.”

Written by John Hageman, Greening IU Athletics Intern

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