FARMINGTON – The University of Maine at Farmington Education Center, designed to showcase energy efficient building systems, is now available for free, pre-scheduled tours to educators, students and the general public. This UMF initiative is being launched to highlight the central role education plays in furthering the green building movement and in informing young people about the profound impact it can have on our natural environment, health and economy.
Created to house the UMF College of Education, Health and Rehabilitation, the Education Center was one of Maine’s first LEED-registered buildings. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
Developed by Grace Eason, UMF associate professor of science and science education, the tour program will use the Education Center as a teaching tool for energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. “We’re so excited to share this wonderful resource with the public,” said Eason. “In a year when energy costs are everyone’s concern, green buildings can show us some practical ways to use less energy while protecting our environment.”
s lobby. (UMF photo)
The public tours will feature the building’s geothermal heating and cooling system, proven to save 70 percent in annual energy costs compared to a structure of similar size built with traditional building methods in the 1970s; natural and recycled construction materials; non-polluting interior furnishings and energy-conserving windows. For elementary and middle school educators and their students, the tour may be combined with lesson plans and materials developed by UMF faculty and education students to bring the science of green buildings into their classrooms.
Made possible by a grant from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Excellence in Green Building Curriculum program, the project will train pre-service teachers at UMF to conduct the tours, develop an electronic newsletter and follow-up materials, and work closely with UMF faculty members to train future student leaders to continue accomplishing the program’s goals. Currently, student leader tour guides include UMF junior Stephanie Bossie, of Winslow; and Pamela Davis Green, of Wayne.
Tours lasting about an hour are available during the academic year and can be scheduled by visiting the program’s website at http://umfedctr.wikispaces.com.
The 44,000 square foot Education Center represents UMF’s commitment to environmental stewardship and to graduating responsible global citizens who care about the environment. It includes the Kalikow Curriculum Materials Center, 10 technology-equipped “smart” classrooms, a technology lab, study areas, conference rooms, offices, and space for two community partners: the Western Maine Partnership and Everyone’s Resource Depot. Recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council with LEED “silver” certification, the low-cost/high-efficiency performance of the Education Center demonstrates that a LEED certified facility is a viable and affordable alternative to traditional building methods.