The Orange County Chapter of the US Green Building Council honored and celebrated organizations and people leading the way in sustainability at the 2014 Eco Awards. The “Most Sustainable NGO” Eco Award was presented to the Environmental Nature Center!
More quotes from the judges:“The Environmental Nature Center is a leader in sustainability education in Orange County. The ENC has built and operates one of the greenest buildings in the County.” “The ENC facility is a first class example of sustainable design, achieving recognition as a LEED Platinum project. The use of metrics in the application substantiates an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.”
The Environmental Nature Center building was LEED Platinum certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009. The award is the highest designation available to buildings that demonstrate energy efficiency and sustainability.
“The ENC’s vision is to inspire all generations to protect the natural world by serving as our communities’ foremost authority on ecological responsibility, sustainable practices, and environmental education,” said ENC Executive Director Bo Glover. “Our education programs cultivate decision makers that will make sustainable choices as adults.”
The ENC serves over 22,000 students each year who come on school field trips, participate in family and community group programs, or through Traveling Naturalist programs that provide science education in classrooms throughout Orange County and beyond.
“While our focus is on the great outdoors, our Naturalists also incorporate green building education into our programs,” said Director of Education Lori Whalen. “Students learn that healthy natural habitat and a sustainably built environment are not mutually exclusive, but rather dependent on one another.”
Students learn about the sustainable construction of the ENC’s building through hands-on activities tailored to each grade level, and aligned with the content standards adopted by the California State Board of Education. Kindergarten students participate in a Recycle Relay Race, 2nd grade students play a game to learn about sustainable building materials, and 5th grade students learn how green design helps the ENC conserve water.
“The need for public education about energy and sustainability issues has never been more important,” said ENC Board President Dan Heinfeld. “ENC education programs make green building concepts easy to understand, and cultivate decision makers that will make sustainable choices as adults.“
The ENC’s green building exceeds the nation’s strictest energy code, California’s Title 24 requirements, by 70%. A 42 kW array of photovoltaic panels generate 67,413 kWh of energy annually, exceeding the ENC’s electrical needs, making the building “net zero”. The building is the first in the Southern California Edison (SCE) service area to actually be a net energy producer.
Other sustainable features include native plant landscaping, rain water harvesting, use of recycled and recyclable materials, light pollution reduction, energy use reduction, recycling programs, water efficiency measures, daylighting, green education, natural ventilation and green housekeeping methods. The ENC installed an Electric Vehicle Charging Station, and purchased an Electric Vehicle (EV) to be used as an eco-friendly mode of transportation for the Traveling Naturalist program.