AGEEC Receives Platinum LEED Certification
The Park District of Oak Park was recently awarded Platinum LEED certification for the Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center making it one of the first of its kind to attain Platinum status. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used third-party verification process for green buildings. Designed by local architect Tom Bassett-Dilley, some of the sustainable features of the Environmental Education Center include a geothermal system that uses the earth’s constant temperature to provide the building’s heating and cooling. Solar panels are located on the roof providing enough power to offset the building’s usage making the facility Net-Zero Energy. A section of the roof is a green roof with 250 plant modules that produces oxygen, lowers the roof’s heat, provides extra insulation and improves the urban heat island effect. The Center also has a rain water harvesting system with a cistern and a highly efficient building envelope. A unique feature of the Center is the wood trim throughout the building made from milled ash trees that were removed from Rehm Park due to Emerald Ash Borer disease.
Since opening in June 2016 the Environmental Education Center has become the Park District’s hub for all nature-based programming. The District’s Nature preschool is located at the Center as well as youth summer camps and numerous programs and special events for all ages. It is also available for private rental.
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