Environmental Center in Documentary

11/06/00 by Salisbury Post

Center for the Environment

From the November 6, 2000, issue of the Salisbury Post

Catawba College will get statewide attention when a documentary film about its new Center for the Environment airs on public television this week.

The show runs Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on UNC-TV and its 11 affiliate stations throughout North Carolina.

Called “Environmental Partners: Designing a Sustainable Future,” it is the first of two 30-minute television documentaries produced by Image Concepts, a film and video production company in Salisbury.

The documentary features the Center for the Environment and its 20,000-square-foot facility, which is under construction on the edge of Catawba’s 189-acre ecological preserve. It should be complete by next semester.

“The documentary emphasizes the goal of the center itself,” said Dr. John Wear, chairman of the college’s environmental science department and the center’s director. “It focuses on partnering people with each other and with their environment to teach others how to be careful stewards of the earth’s resources.”

Deborah Morefield, Image Concepts’ creative director, notes that the program depicts exciting relationships in which architects and environmentalists work side by side with construction contractors and developers. “Many valuable environmental lessons are uncovered in the program,” Morefield said.

The building features many concepts that reduce dependence on electricity and rely on recycled materials: glass bathroom tiles built with recycled glass, table tops made of sunflower seed hulls, geo-thermal heating and photovoltaic cells.

Wear, who supervised the design phase of the facility, said the design team aimed to create a building with a green design that was tried and true, not bleeding edge.

“We wanted to create a model, not an experiment,” he said. “In this way, we hope to act as a catalyst for this type of construction, which will ultimately result in significant reductions in our use of resources.”

Architect Karen Alexander sought input from faculty, staff and students. Students researched sustainable materials and technology used in the plans and helped recycle waste from construction of the center. In addition, students stayed involved in the project through courses on sustainable design.

Alexander said Catawba has made a substantial commitment to the environment with this facility. “It is showing how a small college can make a big statement about the importance of building carefully,” she said.

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