Saturday, February 10, 2007

Environmentally Sustainable Village

At the annual Master Gardener's banquet (I'm now a bronze level advanced Master Gardener), Dr. Luke Gascho from Merry Lea Environmental Center spoke about the recently completed Reith Village, a sustainable environmental and energy sufficient group of buildings. Phase one of the village includes three cottages and a classroom for students to study for their Masters in Environmental Education. Merry Lea is run jointly by Goshen College and the Nature Conservancy.

Reith Village was designed to meet the Platinum Standards by LEEDS. It hasn't been officially graded yet, but in two trial grades, it ranked platinum.

I found the presentation fascinating and it gave me some ideas for when (or if) we build at the Highlands, our tree farm. Follow the links if you are interested, but here are the highlights from the talk for me:
  • A microwatershed contains all the drainage on the site, through the use of a 15,000 gallon cistern.
  • The nonpotable water is pumped into the buildings to flush the toilets.
  • They have an on site sewage system using a wetlands cell biofilter and a recirculating sand filter.
  • The drive and parking lot are recycled concrete with grass overplanted to encourage drainage. The sidewalks are made of permeable concrete for natural drainage.
  • The wind generator has a long payback period, 17 years, but it has an expected life span of 35 years.
  • Local tulip poplar was used for siding and interior work
  • 75% of construction debris diverted from landfills. (See the photo where they are spreading chipped-up leftover drywall on the lawn.)
  • Roofline skylights open to let out heat in the summer to reduce cooling costs.
The presentation was much better than the website. I notice there is a tour this spring. I think I'll try to go. After all, my in-laws' farm borders part of Merry Lea's land.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Congratulations on being bronze. I was not aware there were levels of Master Gardeners.

Interesting link, I think a lot of those ideas can easily be incorporated into any building project.