This weekend marks the grand opening of Maine’s greenest public building, the Bosarge Family Education Center at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Tours and programs continue all weekend.
The Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) structure is expected to generate as much or more energy than it consumes, achieving net-zero-energy status. Its multi-zoned landscape with rain gardens is a model of sustainable design. Signage, including an electronic dashboard showing energy use in real time, helps visitors understand what makes this super-green project special, and provides ideas they can use at home.
The 8,000-square-foot Education Center and adjacent Visitor Center are the hub of the 250-acre waterfront property, which offers spectacular ornamental gardens including children’s and sensory gardens, miles of trails, art exhibits, events, and programs.
Almost immediately after the Gardens’ 2007 opening, the 9,500-square-foot Visitor Center’s uses exceeded available space. The new Education Center will fill the bill with large, flexible areas for classes and programs, studios, and offices.
Funding came from the Bosarge Family Foundation, which donated $2 million, including a $1.5 million matching challenge, which the Gardens not only met but exceeded. The total cost for the Center and its landscape is $4.2 million.
While the Education Center represents the latest science, the design is based on a seemingly whimsical premise: If a plant designed a building. The thinking behind the metaphore posits that a building designed by a plant would function efficiently, generating more energy than it uses without fossil fuels. It would shape itself to fit the character of its bioregion and maintain, or even add to, its ecosystem. It would only produce waste that another system could use. It would conserve water by on-site capture and recycling. And it would adapt to changing environmental conditions. The Education Center does all this.
Among the many professionals involved in the project were Scott Simons Architects, Portland, Maine; Maclay Architects, Waitsfield, Vermont; landscape architect Herb Schaal; Fore Solutions green-building consultants in Portland: and Bensonwood, which constructed the building’s components in New Hampshire and brought them to the Gardens.
To learn more, call 207-633-4333, visit www.MaineGardens.org, or visit the Gardens, off Barters Island Road in Boothbay, Maine.