Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Carbondale Scenic Overlook



Here is our proposal for the redesign of this small structure, which is the first representation of Carbondale that you see when driving in from the north.

We're hoping that this will someday be the home of a new Environmental Learning Center. This is a high profile location, which welcomes many visitors to Carbondale as well as to the upper part of the Roaring Fork Valley. It will serve as a learning center about sustainable principles, and will promote renewable energy and sustainable site and building construction. According to CDOT reports, the Scenic Overlook has over 30,000 visitors per year and we expect that with the proposed upgrades it will substantially increase that volume.

The project will demonstrate to local residents and visitors the benefits of renewable energy and sustainable construction. The construction will be done in exemplary fashion to promote the best sustainable options, by taking the existing structure, re-using a large portion of it, re-orienting the roof toward the sun, adding grid-tied PV panels with energy efficient lighting and natural materials such as straw bale walls and re-claimed materials, such as the roof structure.

We see this as a community project, where many local residents have been involved in the design and decision-making, we will also tap into the network of volunteers we have locally to build the structure together. The site will be planted with native vegetation, which will re-establish a healthy xeric landscape. With our abundant sunshine, our local commitment to renewable energy and sustainable construction, and the location scenic overlook, we feel we can give an excellent first impression of Carbondale and the upper Roaring Fork Valley. It will make local residents and visitors aware of the Roaring Fork Valley’s leadership position in regards to renewable energy and sustainable construction.

The project will serve as an education resource for students throughout the area, and will expand our local sustainable education through the design and construction, kiosks and interactive learning stations. It will encourage students to further explore green education in their school and community. The electric meter itself will become a learning experience, demonstrating the production of energy with the meter running backwards. Once the Satank Bridge is reconstructed we hope to see field trips of students walk over the bridge from CRMS and The Carbondale Community School.

The Experience

• The Environmental Learning Center will provide educational programming, information on ecology and trails, and will promote local green businesses.

• The structure will be a quiet respite from the noise of Highway 82 where visitors can sit and revel in the majesty of one of the valley’s most dramatic peaks, Mount Sopris.

• It will make local residents and visitors aware of the Roaring Fork Valley’s leadership position regarding renewable energy and sustainable development.

• It will increase the visibility of clean, renewable energy generation technologies and sustainable construction methodologies through education and community outreach.

• Climate education – demonstrate the environmental impact of energy savings.

• It will act as a guideline for sustainable development, exhibiting viable strategies for addressing the energy and environment issues of today.

• The overlook will educate and inspire people about the potential and the need for renewable energies and design.

The current scenic overlook energy bill is under $10 monthly. With the new PV system and roof orientation towards the all-day-long sun exposure, the overlook will be putting a great deal of energy back onto the grid. The volunteer based construction vision will be open to all community members, young and old, and will provide a sense of pride and ownership. This project will not only serve Carbondale, but the whole Roaring Fork and Crystal River Valleys. Over 30,000 visitors annually will be stopping at the only scenic overlook in the valley, and learning what all of our communities value most — our environment and how to sustain it’s health and growth.

Our increasing global concerns regarding energy and environmental issues present a timely opportunity for this project. One goal of this project is to become a change agent by being a source of education to inform individuals of positive developments in the field and how they may participate in fostering responsible stewardship of natural resources, and protecting mountain ecosystems.

The current conditions at the Scenic Overlook are not exactly “scenic.” The roof structure is in disrepair and does not reflect well on our community.   There are also power lines in the way of the views of Mount Sopris.

The overlook is designed to be a small taste of the type of solar and sustainable construction structures one sees in the valley.


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