Indian Creek Nature Center setting new sustainability standard for future building construction in Iowa

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — The Indian Creek Nature Center celebrated a first of its kind achievement in Iowa today.

The center is one of only 31 buildings in the world, the only in Iowa, to achieve a Living Building Challenge Petal certification.

Essentially that means, the nature center located at 5300 Otis Road SE, produces more resources than it uses. It’s a step above LEED building certifications.

The building is put to the test to ensure its sustainability by a team of auditors.

“In the 80s we started restoring prairies,” said, Executive Director, John Myers, “In the 90’s we put on the first solar panels and in the 2000’s we purchased hundreds of acres of land for protection. So when we set out to build this building it was only natural for us to look to the future.”

That idea led staff at the Indian Creek Nature Center to work toward something radically new. A building that not only self sustains but actually produces resources like energy from solar panels and even raw honey.

“A living building thinks about 20 years ahead and so we focus on things such as net-zero energy. We produced 100% of our own electricity on-site through solar panels,” said Myers.

The certification also means the center has zero water run-off. Jean Wiedenheft helped see the project through over the 6 years it took to get here. She knew that preventing stormwater runoff was important to the community.

“I know Cedar Rapids in particular of course remembers 2008 very clearly. So to not be sending stormwater downstream is very important to us,” said Wiedenheft.

It’s a first of its kind step here in Iowa. However, it is one the staff here say future generations will thank them for.

“We all leave that footprint behind us, so looking at what can you do to minimize that footprint or even not have a footprint, that just struck us as a beautifully radical thing,” said Wiedenheft.

During the design and construction, the staff and architects took time to embody the idea of reconnecting Iowans with nature and bringing the outdoors inside.

“Everything we’ve done in this building was done by Iowans, which means there’s no reason others couldn’t do it,” said Wiedenheft.

The solar panels provide 100% of the energy needed for the Center and actually sends extra power back to Alliant Energy.

$7.6 million was raised by donors for the project. Myers says $1 million of that was saved for future operating costs.

To learn more about the Indian Creek Nature Center and its achievement, visit their website.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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