The Link Building
A green addition was completed at the Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary's visitor center in 2006. This area is nicknamed “the link building” because the 1,400-square-foot connecting structure links the visitor center with the library, the main program space. What once was a dark and unattractive corridor with a series of stairs leading down to the library now has a universally accessible ramp leading into a bright and environmentally friendly program space.
Patio doors creatively doubling as windows line the corridor and provide a cross- sectional view of the beautiful formal gardens. Sunlight filters into the large space and provides a radiant atmosphere, reducing the need for artificial light. On those cloudy days when light is needed, new thin fluorescent bulbs located on the tall ceiling are more energy efficient compared to the older lighting devices. The barely functioning bathrooms that once occupied the back end of the building are gone, and the new ones complete with motion-detector sinks and lights, a waterless urinal in the men's room, and dual-flush toilets in the Ladies, offer visitors a convenient, energy and resource efficient environment.
Following in the green-design footsteps of the George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center at the Boston Nature Center, the all-natural linoleum floor (Marmoleum) is made from plant-based raw materials and installed with solvent-free adhesives. Extra insulation in the walls keep the building warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
The link building was designed by architect Nancy Fulton in collaboration with the Olsen Lewis Dioli & Doktor, Architects and Planners. Nancy was a teacher at Habitat and a long time Mass Audubon member.
SmartStorm Rainwater Recovery System
Just outside the addition, large green tanks are part of an environmentally friendly water recovery system used to collect clean rainwater from the roof and store it for irrigation of the sanctuary's formal gardens.
How the SmartStorm Rainwater Recovery System works
Rainwater from a series of roof gutters and downspouts on the Habitat buildings flows through a series of PVC pipes located below ground and connected to the storage tanks. The rainwater, which is collected before it hits the pavement and picks up oil or other contaminants, drains into the plastic storage tanks and remains there until needed. The system can store up to 2,000 gallons of water. A pump, located in the basement of Habitat, supplies the rainwater to a sprinkler irrigation system, which is used to water the gardens on the property. The excess water is directed to a dry well and seeps into the ground to provide recharge to the groundwater.
What makes the system so "smart" are the benefits to the environment, including the following: recharges the groundwater, decreases runoff volume and peak flows to storm drains, improves storm-water quality, provides a strategic emergency supply of water, reduces water demand for irrigation during the summertime, and has the potential to offset the effects of local well withdrawals by recharging the groundwater supply.
The SmartStorm Rainwater Recovery System was designed and installed by Ken Dews of RainStay.
Both the "link building" and the SmartStorm Rainwater Recovery System are good examples of ways that Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary is doing its part to leave a lighter footprint on the environment.