The Kalamazoo Nature Center is recognized as one of the nation’s best nature centers. Since 1960, KNC has been inspiring people to care about the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world, and by preserving this special place as well.
Years ago we began making environmentally friendly changes to our facility, which when constructed in 1962 was made to last for generations. Some of those changes include:
- Closed all abandoned wells on our large inventory of property to reduce risk of groundwater contamination
- We removed our underground petroleum storage tank and a heating fuel storage tank from a property left to us in a bequest (closed clean, no leaks)
- Asbestos was properly removed from our buildings.
In 1997, we completed a $5.2 million dollar renovation to our buildings and grounds.
- Parking areas, signs, trails, etc. were all redone
- Contemporary, easy to maintain, and energy efficient systems replaced all the systems within the building
- We now heat the entire building using a non-polluting (groundwater) geothermal system/water –loop, electric heat pump system
- The geothermal system is included as part of our exhibits
- We also increased the air turnover rate to ensure a healthier indoor air quality
- Computer controlled heating/cooling/lighting systems were installed to improve energy efficiency
- The linoleum is an all-natural (non-petrochemical/cork) product, called Marmoleum
- We reused many of the wood cabinets that were used in the old building
- We employed as many local artists and fabricators as possible to save on fossil fuels
- We also installed a sod roof on the north slope of the greenhouse which models an alternative insulation
- Insulated light transmitting panels, were used to replace the (glass) roof in the greenhouse
- All glass and windows were replaced with insulated glass in thermal break aluminum frames. It is a much more energy efficient, light penetrating product
- Vestibule flooring tiles at the entrances are made from recycled tires.
Ongoing environmentally friendly practices include:
- Utilizing compact and fluorescent light bulbs
- Recycling office paper, cardboard, glass, vehicle/equipment oil, and metal
- Producing our publications with recycled paper and soy inks whenever possible
- Daily cleaning products do not contain toxic chemicals
- Hazardous materials are recycled
- Paper products are not bleached
- Use sand rather than salt on icy driveway during winter
- In addition, we maintain our vehicles and equipment on a regular basis to increase efficiency and reduce pollution
- Our trails are properly designed and maintained to minimize soil compaction and prevent erosion.
- In the most recent $3,995,000 renovation we used environmentally friendly materials when possible and recycled other materials.
- We recycled as much of the old building material being removed as possible, including the recycling of steel and cardboard
- 120 cubic yards of metal have been recycled in our construction project
- We re-used components from existing exhibit displays to create new ones
- The sound walls in new vestibule areas are made from 100% recycled polyester
- We are continuing the use of Marmoleum for the flooring
- When the new roof was installed, insulation was added to the entire Interpretive Center.
Finally, in the last renovation phase as well as this current one, we are replacing single pane windows and doors from the 1960’s with energy efficient windows and doors and asphalt and concrete are being recycled as we repave areas of our parking and driveway.
Construction materials from both the 1997 and current projects included:
- Local hardwoods
- 100% rubber
- Cork flooring
- Low wattage fluorescent lighting.
Recently we entered into an agreement with the Kalamazoo County Parks to participate in the construction of a pedestrian/bike pathway that will connect to downtown Kalamazoo. From there it connects with a 60-mile linear park system.
The Kalamazoo Nature Center uses fleet vehicles:
- Until the end of the vehicles’ useful lives
- To do this we maintain vehicles and equipment to enhance efficiency
- We strive to use the appropriate vehicle for the job at hand.
KNC has provided the leadership to initiate an innovative program called the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (SWMSBF). The SWMSBF brings together business, industry, environmental organizations, institutions and governmental agencies to promote business practices which demonstrate environmental stewardship, economic vitality and social responsibility, known as the Triple Bottom Line.