Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is not quite a simple wildlife or nature preserve. It is accredited as by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has a collection of captive animals it cares for because misfortune had rendered them unable to survive in the wild. Nevertheless, it is not what most people might think of as a zoo. It has a strong educational mission and even has a nature-based Montessori early learning center. On the other hand, it is a place where people can go for a cruise in a natural setting or even just to visit an informal garden. We might say it has a unique approach to helping us get in touch with nature, giving us a lot to choose from.
Unsurprisingly, the Science Center’s mission promotes care for the environment. That means adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency, avoiding polluting, emitting as little carbon dioxide as possible, and taking care of soil and water. The organization made a pledge to reduce emissions 50% and get half of its energy from renewable resources by 2030 as part of its strategic plan for 2016 to 2020. So, we were not surprised when we learned of two new examples of environmental progress at the Science Center.
One of these is a new array of solar panels on the roof of the Science Center’s Lake Cruise Headquarters. This building, which is located across the street from the Science Center’s main entrance, is relatively new, having opened in July 2017. Though the array was new, its panels were not. They were salvaged from an off-grid house that was being deconstructed. The sixteen panels are fifteen years old, but together they can generate nearly two kilowatts of power, which is enough for the building. They have been set up with batteries, and the building is not grid-tied. The solar system was installed by Mauchly Electric of Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Another initiative was the installation of a composting toilet. It was set up on the live animal nature trail, next to the Gordon Children’s Center and Interactive Playscape. Because a lot of people use the trail each year, the composting system is expected to save a lot of water, about 70,000 gallons each year. It will emit small amounts of water vapor and carbon dioxide, and it will produce compost. It is the Science Center’s second composting system, and it was installed by Clivus New England, based in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center has a refreshingly interesting and very extensive web site, www.nhnature.org.
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