This latest upgrade, part of a multi-year effort, positions Earthplace as a regional energy conservation showcase for its 23,000-square-foot facility located on a 62-acre nature sanctuary in Westport.
While the first phase - completed in 2012 - focused on improving the energy efficiency of the building and installing the first 12kw of solar, the second phase added a further 32kw of solar with heating system upgrades and a major LED lighting retrofit. The next phase will likely address water conservation, air circulation and other distributed generation technologies as Earthplace nears its goal of net zero carbon emissions.
“We are very excited about these upgrades to our facility as we look to create an energy conservation showcase,” says Tony McDowell, executive director of Earthplace. “This is a win-win-win project for Earthplace, the town and the state.”
“We received state-supported financing for conservation and clean energy upgrades that will produce a lower carbon footprint for years to come. The carbon reduction benefits flow to the town and state as we all strive for net zero emissions by 2050.”
Part of the Earthplace’s ongoing contribution to the community has been its successful “Environmental Learning Series,” which is co-produced by the Westport Green Task Force and presents film-screenings and lectures followed by a panel of local experts available to answer questions.
The total cost of these upgrades including the added solar was approximately $300,000. $178,000 was financed by a state program called C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy).
Earthplace provides many resources to surrounding communities, including: a 62-acre nature sanctuary with two-and-a-half miles of trails, indoor and outdoor live animal exhibits, a premier water quality lab and field monitoring program called Harbor Watch, a highly accredited nature-based Preschool and summer camp, a Nature Museum for children, and evening Environmental Learning programs for teens and adults.
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