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Pine Bush gets gold rating for going green

It's been a good two weeks for the Pine Bush Preserve Commission. On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the Town of Guilderland dedicated 191 acres of town land to the commission, and a week later the Pine Bush Preserve's Discovery Center was recognized as one of the most environmental friendly buildings in the Capital District.

On Tuesday Feb. 9, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced the Discovery Center received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building, located on New Karner Road, was once a bank; however, in 2004 the Pine Bush Preserve Commission began the process of converting the building into an environmentally friendly learning center.

What initially began as an effort to achieve a Basic LEED level rating, soon, with an energetic design team, turned to a goal of Silver and ended in Gold, said Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission Executive Director Christopher Hawver, in a release.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided $103,000 to help the center achieve its gold rating. "The work to attain LEED certification demonstrates the Pine Bush Commission's commitment to protecting not just the ecology of the Pine Bush Preserve, but the environment as a whole," said Francis J. Murray, president and CEO of NYSERDA, in a release.

Director of the Discovery Center, Mike Venuti, said the efforts achieve the certification began with the deconstruction of the old bank.

"We were actually able to recycle 97 percent of the materials discarded from the building," said Venuti. Some of the material recycled until wood, metal, wall supports, and 700 ton of asphalt, which was eventually replaced with native landscaping. This included pitch pines, oak trees, and addition of the discovery trail through the habitat.

"We were also able to take advantage of ebay, and sell stuff left over from the bank," he said. The center sold the teller stations, windows, and even the vacuum system that was used in the drive through.

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