Chicago Area Nature Center Going for LEED Certification

Practicing what it preaches, the Hickory Knolls Nature Center in St. Charles, Ill. is “going for the green” to become a LEED-certified building.

The Nature Center, which opens in September 2011, will not only have plenty of interactive nature exhibits and classes for children and adults, but the Center will also offer a tour of its building, which boasts many green ideas including:

  1. The entrance to the building boasts recycled materials. The hickory leaves on display at the entrance are made from recycled soda bottles.
  2. The building’s washrooms have several conservation features which include hand dryers to save paper towels and landfill waste, automatic water sensors which save water and automatic flush toilets that also reduce water usage.
  3. Windows and skylights cuts the need for excessive lighting and energy use
  4. Geothermal heating and cooling system
  5. Concrete walls were used instead of drywall or other materials to also save on resources
  6. Regulated lighting system
  7. Low VOC-carpeting
  8. Exhibits were created to be reusable and moveable
  9. A semi-permeable pavers on the west side of the parking lot, which allows rain to percolate through, decreasing run-off and pollutants in waterways.

The exhibits are even ecofriendly! All of the paints, sealants, adhesives and even wood used throughout the exhibits are low-emitting materials, thus improving the air quality throughout the building.

Outdoors, the Discovery Center is green too! The native landscaping, which surrounds the Center have been treated with low amounts of herbicides, pesticides and water. So, the plants have deeper root systems and have adapted to drought conditions. Also, by planting gardens instead of turf less air pollution will be emitted by lawn mowers. Also, according to the Center, ” The Savannah and Birding Meadow are havens for our native animals, providing food, water and shelter. Even the building is benefitting from the shade of the Oaks, cooling on a hot summer day and decreasing our energy needs!”

Water gardens are situated near the parking lots, which collect rain water and is then filtered and absorbed by the plants, decreasing run-off.  There are plants growing on the Center’s roof too! The green roof absorbs water and decreases the heat island effect. So, the need for extra cooling is decreased, thus saving energy consumption.

So, check out the Hickory Knolls Discover Center — there’s more than just meets the eye. The Center is located at 3795 Campton Hills Road in St. Charles. For more information visit http://www.stcparks.org/Facilities/hickory-knollls-discovery-center.html or call 630-513-4399.