Botanical Garden greener than ever

The new Education Center at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill opened in September to accolades for its superior dedication to eco-friendly features. The 29,656-square-foot center, which will be the hub of the garden's extensive educational outreach activities, received the highest level of certification for green architecture: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum.

The three-building complex relies on green technologies such as photovoltaic panels, above- and below-ground rainwater cisterns, stormwater retention ponds, geothermal heating and air-conditioning, natural day-lighting and low-flow plumbing. Construction materials were obtained within a 500-mile radius, including lumber milled from the site. Recycled components include steel beams made from scrap metal from automobiles. A new, expanded parking lot is topped with rain-permeable surfaces to minimize runoff. Funds to help build the $12.5 million center have so far been contributed by University of North Carolina students and more than 500 other individuals. The $210,000 student gift came from a personal "sustainability fee" approved by the students. Donations are still needed, and naming opportunities for parts of the facility still exist. For more information, visit or call (919) 962-9457.

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