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(News) New green bldg for Nature Conservancy

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The Nature Conservancy of Indiana broke ground on its new "green" headquarters, yesterday.

Once complete, the Conservancy's new headquarters will feature green roofs with plants that absorb water and carbon and emit oxygen, permeable parking surfaces and a rainwater cistern to eliminate storm water run-off, low water-flow toilets that use recycled waste water and rainwater, geothermal heating and cooling, and wind turbines to generate power.

Additionally, street-level landscaping consisting of native trees and plants best adapted to Indiana's environment, converting large areas of principally hard, impermeable surfaces to plants and trees will be added, and the building will have meeting space for 75 or more people, plus smaller spaces suitable for neighborhood organizations. There will be exhibit and community meeting space that is designed to highlight the energy efficiency and sustainable nature of the building design, construction processes, and materials used.

It's no secret why the new green headquarters will be named as the "Efroymson Conservation Center," in honor of the Efroymson family, who has made a substantial contribution toward the new building.

"My family has supported the Conservancy for so many years because of their leadership in preserving and protecting our environment," says Lori Efroymson-Aguilera . "Our family has deep roots in this community, and everything we do has to make it a better place. It is our hope that others will look to the Efroymson Conservation Center as the inspiration for helping the cause of conservation."

"The Efroymson family's gifts to conservation, like their gifts to Indianapolis, have been inspirational," said Mary McConnell, state director for the Indiana Chapter. "They have challenged us to move in new directions and to see the larger picture. Now the Efroymsons have challenged us again: this time to reduce our contribution to the global climate change by building the ‘greenest' building in Indianapolis."

"Our new headquarters in downtown Indianapolis will be the bricks-and-mortar embodiment of our conservation mission," said McConnell. "In construction, we will be using salvaged bricks, Indiana limestone, and sustainably harvested Indiana hardwoods." The Conservancy's new headquarters, located in the Cole Noble neighborhood, is designed to become the first platinum-level LEED-certified office building in Indiana.

"LEED" means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a Green Building Rating Systemâ„¢ developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED provides a hierarchy of standards for environmentally sustainable construction: "certified," "silver," "gold," and finally "platinum," for those projects that are designed to and perform at the highest levels.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard attended Thursday's groundbreaking, as part of his many activities during "green week".

"We are very fortunate have the Nature Conservancy as a partner in our endeavor to make Indianapolis a more sustainable, more livable city," said Mayor Ballard. "Their new headquarters will be a model for sustainable construction, and we welcome it to the downtown area as a symbol of what can be accomplished when public and private sectors work together." The Nature Conservancy's groundbreaking was part of Mayor Ballard's Office of Sustainability's Green Week.

Said McConnell, "The Nature Conservancy is committed to conservation and to helping mitigate the factors that cause climate change. We are also committed to our community and will operate our headquarters office in a manner that minimizes our effect on the environment and serves as a model for other organizations to follow. We will help Indianapolis create a more livable environment."

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