Monday, October 5, 2009

Green field trip: Connecticut Science Center

Hola, GLR fans. Melissa here with a tip for a great and green day trip, if you're a New Englander, and a nice destination for Columbus Day weekend travelers.

With Columbus Day weekend just around the bend, it seems like the opportune time to share a great possible excursion. Just off I-84 in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, is the brand spanking new
Connecticut Science Center (this past summer was its first season). My kids are science nerds in the making (a big "yay!" in my book!), and one of my best friends lives not too far from Hartford, so we planned to get our boys together and check out New England's newest place to geek out for fun.

We went expecting lots of cool, hands-on exhibits for giving a fresh jolt to the kids' interest in science and were not disappointed there. There's lots to see and, maybe even more importantly, to do, from building and trying out Lego racers to designing and testing your own paper "helicopter" to building your own noise-producing circuit board. And there's a sizeable area devoted to pleasing even the smallest budding scientists...let's just say waterproof gear is provided!

But working our way through the various floors, I began to notice efforts to incorporate green thinking all over the place. Chatting with an employee, I discovered this wasn't an accident or simply a marketing ploy, but part of the Center's very fiber.
  • Carpets are all made from recycled plastics.
  • Ninety-five percent of the steel used to construct the building is reclaimed from cars and other objects.
  • The "sand" in the river model exhibit is made of recycled plastics.
  • A roof garden, when completed, will help with heating and cooling the building.
  • The Center's cafe offers meals made with fresh, locally-grown and organic foods.
  • The cafe's utensils are made from corn, and therefore biodegradable.
  • Lights in bathrooms and offices are on sensors.
  • Bathrooms have the new "up for #1, down for #2" system for water conservation.
A glance at the Center's green mission revealed even more:
  • The Center is projected to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Builders used locally manufactured building products, cutting back on transportation impacts and helping the local economy.
  • Down the road, a 60-foot wall of solar panels and a 200kw fuel cell will supplement electrical and heating sources.
Add to that a theater running a film about climate change and a major exhibit that allows visitors to learn about and experiment with a variety of energy-saving technologies, and you've got one green field trip. Oh, and it's just plain cool to look at, and look out of, too! So, New Englanders and/or motivated Columbus Day tourists, get ye to Hartford and check it out!

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