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Ecologically friendly, from the ground up

A new environmental education center planned for the Dr. Victor Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga is being built using environmentally friendly construction techniques.

Denise M. Sheehan, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Friday joined local officials in announcing that construction on the $1.7 million project is under way. Sheehan said the center will play an important role in the agency's efforts "to educate the next generation of environmental stewards."

And that stewardship will start with paying careful attention to how the new education center is built.

The 4,900-square-foot building was designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's "Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design" or LEED standards. LEED certification is based on energy efficiency for heating, cooling and lighting, as well as the use of recycled and other environmentally friendly materials.

Flooring will be made of recycled materials, and there will be energy efficient lighting and other "green" design elements that are expected to pay for themselves over time through reduced energy and maintenance costs. Also, the DEC will educate visitors about the building's green features and on how to incorporate the ideas in homes and offices.

Construction on the new building began March 8 and is slated for completion by next winter.

The building is being constructed inside the 292-acre Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, a complex of wetlands and forest off Como Park Boulevard. The DEC acquired the property from Reinstein's estate in 1986 and agreed that the woods would be kept in its natural state.

State Assemblyman Paul Tokasz, who helped secure $150,000 in state funding for the education center project, called it a wise public investment.

"The Reinstein family has a philanthropic legacy second to none in Western New York . . . It is fitting that the [DEC] maximizes the potential of this legacy by educating future generations on the importance of preserving and protecting the environment," Tokasz said in a news release.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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