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Facilities - Overview

Our Discovery Place Multi-purpose Room
Our Discovery Place Multi-purpose Room

The Bunker Interpretive Center provides approximately 5,000 square feet of space which serves as a home base for formal programs, a study center for the college community, and an educational resource for casual visitors to the preserve (now about 5,000 people per year). Included in that space are a laboratory classroom, a multi-purpose room, and a display hall. The multipurpose room, depending on its configuration, can serve as a lecture hall or as an exploratory space for elementary classes. The display hall will house permanent and temporary displays to help visitors better understand the structure and function of the ecosystem preserve.

Our Laboratory Classroom
Our Laboratory Classroom

One purpose of the new facility is help visitors understand their role in the world as stewards of creation. Toward that end, it was decided early in the design of the new building that it should express responsible stewardship in both its construction and its operation. Says preserve director Randall Van Dragt: "When I first wrote up criteria for the building, it included making it as environmentally sounds as possible." As a target for environmentally sustainable design, the designers adopted the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards of the US Green Building Council and sought to create a building that could receive gold certification from the USGBC. Features of the building that contribute to LEED certification include:

  • Locating the interpretive center on an old college land fill

  • Employing low impact building materials wherever possible (certified lumber, recycled ceramic tile and carpeting, paints low in volatile organic compounds)

  • Low impact construction practices

  • Passive lighting and automated passive cooling

  • Computerized environmental control system

  • Radiant heating system in the building floors

  • Building ventilation controlled by occupancy sensors

  • Heavily insulated walls and ceilings, including a partially earth-bermed south wall

  • Photovoltaic power system projected to supply 60% of building's annual electricity needs. (System operation can be observed at the website solar.calvin.edu).

  • Multiple water conservation strategies, including a soil and plant-based gray water treatment system for all sink water and composting toilets which use minimal water (partner: Clivus Multrum, Inc.)

  • Landscaping with native species to enhance the surrounding natural community and to conserve irrigation water

Our Gray Water Treatment System
Our Gray Water Treatment System