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Nature Center goes natural

Recycling, efficiency are key to new environmentally friendly building

Posted: June 8, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: June 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Ranger Frank and Cricket, an American Kestrel falcon, stand outside the environmentally friendly remodeled facility at Placerita Nature Center. Friday, June 19 marks the re-dedication of the building, and Saturday is the Open House and Family Festival.

It's time to say goodbye to the trailers and fences and hello to Placerita Canyon Nature Center's fresh new environmentally friendly building.

"We're very anxious to get in," said Frank Hoffman, acting regional superintendent.

To mark the completion of the building, the center will host a rededication ceremony at 10 a.m. on June 19, Hoffman said. The public is welcome to attend.

The next day, the center will hold an open house and family festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., showing off the new space for the community. The event includes animal presentations, tours and activities for the kids.

The new 5,500-square-foot center is "green" at every turn.

Appliances are energy-efficient, the building is insulated with shredded media and the staff is able to mulch and compost on location, he said.

Offices feature skylights, which reduce the amount of power used, and rooms are kept lighted, or not, by automatic lights.

Doors and door hardware taken from the old center have been sent to a sister nature center to be used for bird enclosures, he said.

Even the old furniture has found a new home at the Whittier Narrows Regional Park, he said.

The center's bathrooms and sinks are now compliant with the American Disabilities Act, he said.

The volunteer-run gift shop was able to grow by 300 square feet during construction, he said.

Outside, the park is surrounded by drought- and heat-tolerant plants, which don't require watering by the center.

"The things we are doing make sense to us," Hoffman said.

And it's those steps that Hoffman hopes will earn the nature center a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a government-issued designation for "green" buildings.

"It's the very first remodel of its kind in the whole (Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation) department," Hoffman said.

While the center's new space includes a museum, crews are making the finishing touches, which will be handled over the next couple of years, Hoffman said.

"I believe our educational programs will continue to grow and exceed guest expectations," he said.

The community will still be able to attend live animal presentations, he said.

With every new addition to the center, Hoffman hopes to better serve and educate the community.

"I like setting an example for the next generation, for the kids that come here," Hoffman said. "If we can do it, they can do it."


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