As a 501-3c non-profit science learning center, the process to achieve Platinum LEED status began in 1998 as a grassroots effort led by strong community and member support, the result, an award-winning, LEED Platinum Certified building. Today, Walking Mountain Science Center provides curriculum-aligned field studies programs and summer science camps to 24 public and private pre-K-12 schools and community programs to over 23,000 locals and visitors.
When the Center began planning a new $15 million campus they knew that the energy components of the new buildings could be an integral part of their teaching, but they recognized that to achieve that goal they would need help. A $50,000 SEP-ARRA-funded sub-grant from the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) allowed Ambient Energy, a contractor in the CEO’s High Performance Building program, to provide third-party technical assistance (primarily energy modeling and plan review) during the design process, enhancing both the energy efficiency and renewable energy components of the project.
The LEED Platinum Certified design utilizes many sustainability strategies that strive to reduce energy demand, provide flexible indoor and outdoor educational space and create a sense of place that is specific to this site and region. The three core campus buildings include 11,600 square feet of classroom space, interpretive gallery, administrative work areas and support space. A central plant heats all buildings utilizing solar thermal collectors, a ground source heat pump, and a 96% efficient boiler. A year of operational data shows the buildings to have Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of only 18 kbtuh per square foot per year. This compares with a EUI of 115 for the same building built only to code. Solar electric (photovoltaic) panels on the roof are currently providing over half the annual campus electricity demand. 94% of the interior spaces are naturally day lit and sensors automatically dim or turn off the electric lights when they are not needed or spaces are unoccupied. All occupied spaces are served by natural cooling (with no supplemental cooling) and allow for individual control of operable window vents, ceiling fans and task lighting.
Walking Mountains Science Center Features At-A-Glance