Our Green Facility

The Wild Center is a green building demonstration project.

Explore this page or visit the Center and you can see first-hand all the pieces that make it the first LEED Certified museum in New York.  The Center's onsite exhibit includes outdoor labels that detail everything from the inner workings of the huge solar array on the Bio Building to the pioneering new heating system that relies on renewables to heat the entire 54,000 square foot complex. If you can't visit, you can see many of the stories here.

The Wild Center offers a complete self-guided or staff-led tour of its energy-saving and other green systems.

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Night Lights

In the Adirondacks you can still see the Milky Way. Animals can too. A dark night for creatures that are nocturnal or use celestial navigation is one thing that makes the Adirondacks a more natural place. Exterior lighting fixtures can unintentionally fill the night sky with stray light, pushing nature away to the darker edges. The light fixtures at The Wild Center are designed to eliminate stray light by using reflectors that focus the light downward, keeping the night sky dark.

The New Path

The New Path is another outdoor exhibit that lets you see behind the scenes at The Wild Center's Silver LEED Certified green building practices. The trail leads you from the solar and living roof of the Bio Building to the flushless composting toilets and the grassy parking lot. The Wild Center is the first LEED Certified museum in New York.

Solar Power

The light from the Sun has enough energy to illuminate half the Earth. The 190 solar panels on the roof at The Wild Center's Bio Building generate enough energy to run the whole Bio Building operations.

Renewable Heat

The Wild Center saw a huge cut in its heating bill this year with a pioneering new heating system that uses renewables to heat the entire 54,000 square foot complex.

The system integrates a solar tube hot water system with a pellet furnace, seen above. The new boiler system is the first of its kind: a highly efficient, commercial-sized, gasification wood-pellet boiler manufactured and installed in New York State. (FAQs available here).

Clarkson University is evaluating the energy-efficiency and emissions performance of the entire heating system. This evaluation will provide scientific information useful to decision makers developing renewable energy strategies, while also serving as a model for others looking to evaluate ways to heat with renewable fuels in an efficient manner.

In the Adirondacks the most abundant and inexpensive renewable fuel is wood. However, traditional wood burning stoves, some common commercial wood boilers and outdoor wood boilers suffer from low efficiency and high levels of pollution from incomplete combustion. The planned project offers a very clean-burning, highly efficient alternative use of wood fuel.

The successful installation and use of the boiler system saves the Center money and reduces its need for oil heat. By harvesting the “waste” in logging and sawmill operations to create wood pellets and then selling that back to local institutions, the money that is currently sent abroad for the purchase of fossil fuels is instead kept in the Adirondacks.

Water Cistern

Water costs a lot of money. It needs to be pumped, filtered, delivered and often disposed of. Catching rainwater for use cuts out lots of steps. The sun and gravity does all the delivery work. The Wild Center uses a rainwater cistern to cut the water it needs to buy.

Recycled Flooring

One ingredient in the rubberized flooring used at The Wild Center is old tires. Every year 290 million tires leave the road in the U.S. More than 90 percent of them go on to lead productive second lives.

Locally-Sourced Materials

You can see examples of local buying at The Wild Center. Buying local keeps money in the regional economy, and cuts down on lots of costs. The wood siding on The Wild Center was harvested and milled in Tupper Lake and the stone blocks were quarried in nearby Warrensburg. Most contractors can help you source locally if you ask. 

Green Roof

It’s such a good idea that it might be the standard roof of the future. Plants insulate. Studies show that the insulating benefits of green roofs can reduce annual heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. In a typical Adirondack town rain running off roofs can  overwhelm sewer systems, causing them to overflow and spill untreated waste. Green roofs retain as much as 80 percent of the rain that falls on them. You can see details of how to build a green roof on the New Path tour.

Grey Water Use

The Living River exhibit inside The Wild Center has weekly scheduled water changes. Some of the water goes into Greenleaf Pond where it joins the natural water cycle. Diverting water that would have gone to a mechanized treatment facility helps cut energy use.  

Free Interior Lighting

More than 95 percent of the spaces inside The Wild Center  have a direct line of sight to the Adirondacks outside. Having free light cuts electric expenses, and health-care costs. Multiple studies show that people who work in places where they can see the outside world and real sunlight are healthier and more productive. Even on a cloudy day; not that we ever have those in the Adirondacks.

Site Reclamation

The Wild Center was built on an old sandpit. Choosing the spot on the property that had already been disturbed by surface mining helped bring life to a part of the site that had very little. This also allowed the less disturbed areas to stay natural and remain a part of the healthy Adirondack forest.

Living Stormwater Systems

You can build to make more nature. The flood system here is designed to create temporary pools. Temporary bodies of water also occur in nature without human help; they're called vernal pools. Whether natural or human-made, these pools provide critical egg-laying and nursery habits for amphibians and insects. The frogs, toads, salamanders and insects that lay their eggs in these habitats ensure a reduced chance of predation on their eggs because temporary pools can't sustain populations of hungry fish. All the new life in the ponds attracts more life to the area.

Cheap Plantings

Native plant species are adapted to this particular habitat and climate; this means they require much less maintenance and resources than non-native species. More than 95 percent of The Wild Center’s landscape plantings are native.

Non-Smelly Zero-Flush Toilets

Zero gallons per flush. That’s how much water The Wild Center's composting toilets use.  A mixture of aerobic bacteria and fungi break the waste down and reduce it to a dry, odorless, soil-like material that’s 25 percent of its original volume. Clean water is a precious resource, even in the Adirondacks. The average home toilet flushes 16,000 gallons a year. Take a look at your tax bill and see how much goes into sewage treatment annually.  

Green Parking Systems

You can see how a big green parking lot works on the back two lots at The Wild Center. The lifespan of the materials used at The Wild Center is three times that of pavement. Typical blacktop lasts around eight years and in most areas blacktop is considered so toxic that getting rid of it requires a disposal permit. Pavers last closer to 25 years and can be recycled. An ordinary parking lot has no effective system to deal with contaminants; rainwater along with any pollutants simply flow on the surface and into drains. Water-penetrable paver lots allow natural processes to do their thing, filtering out pollutants such as hydrocarbons and nitrogen and allowing water to seep back into the water table.