“LEEDing” by Example: Civic Garden Center’s Green Learning Station Achieves LEED Platinum Certification
The cleanest, greenest model of sustainability now stands on
former “brown field” site, right in the heart of Avondale.
Since the 1940s, the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati has been an essential resource for thousands of residents who want to make their homes and communities greener and more sustainable. To give learners of all ages first-hand experience with growing gardens and going green, the Civic Garden Center opened the Green Learning Station (GLS) in 2011 on the site of an old gas station. Featuring solar panels, an advanced water capturing and reuse system, energy-efficient building materials and a green rooftop, the Green Learning Station was carefully designed with conservation in mind. This is why the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently awarded it with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification—one of the highest standards of excellence in sustainable construction.
LEED certifications are based on a 100-point scale, with points awarded in six major categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design. While many newly constructed and renovated structures strive for some level of LEED certification, Platinum-certified buildings are still relatively rare. In fact, only eleven commercial structures in greater Cincinnati have achieved LEED Platinum certification. The Green Learning Station reached for the highest LEED standard in an effort to show the community that living more sustainably is achievable. Vickie Ciotti, Executive Director of the Civic Garden Center, explains, “Even from the earliest planning stages, we wanted the Green Learning Station to be an educational resource that teaches by example in a very hands-on, experiential way. Being awarded this LEED Platinum certification confirms that we have achieved what we set out to do.”
The Green Learning Station is a Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) Green Demonstration Project site implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of green stormwater controls in reducing the volume of runoff reaching the combined sewer system. Thanks to funding from MSD and the Ohio EPA, the GLS continues to study the effectiveness over time of six different types of pervious surfaces using sensors embedded within the parking lot. A data management startup, Liquid, LLC, oversees the study by utilizing a cloud-based data system.
The GLS also hosts a weather station on the roof that tracks local weather patterns and air quality for research and reporting. On any given day, the GLS educates school groups and community members on the importance of sustainability awareness and how everyone can learn to “live greener” in their everyday lives. “While we realize most households cannot afford to retrofit their homes to meet LEED Platinum standards, there are still many low-cost and no-cost ways people can reduce their carbon footprints. We strive to teach people how their daily practices make an impact,” says Kylie Johnson, Green Learning Station Coordinator. “Establishing new practices, like composting or collecting rain water can make a huge difference when individual efforts are added together. The Green Learning Station empowers people with the knowledge to make a positive difference for the environment and resources we share.”
From workshops and classes to tours and field trips, The Green Learning Station offers a range of learning opportunities for schools, professionals and residents alike. For more information about The Green Learning Station or to schedule an interview, please contact Christine Carli at 513-382-8328 or email@example.com.
About The Civic Garden Center: The Civic Garden Center (CGC) is a non-profit horticultural resource whose mission is building community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship. Founded in 1942, the CGC is the only organization of its kind in the region. The administrative office building is located at 2715 Reading Road on the former estate of Cornelius J. Hauck. Here the CGC hosts classes, a horticultural library, several gardens for visitors to enjoy free of charge, the Green Learning Station, and an outdoor compost classroom. In addition, the CGC supports the development and continued success of over 50 community and children’s gardens throughout the city. Outreach efforts include the Community Gardens, Youth Education and School Gardens programs. The CGC offers these programs at no cost to participants, thanks to the generosity of donors, private and government grants and corporate sponsorships. More information is available at www.civicgardencenter.org and at www.greenlearningstation.org.
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