February has brought more progress to the Environmental Learning Center job site, which has been humming with activity amid the storms and gray skies of winter. With just about three months to go until the grand opening, there is lots happening both inside and out.
The most noticeable progress has been on the outside of the building, with the installation of a beautiful combination of cedar and aluminum siding. Our staff loves the “rustic red” color against the beauty of the wood.
The Chapman Construction/Design crew had some natural challenges to face when we went through a thaw. Got to admire their creativity in finding pathways across the mud!
Indoors, the major milestone of the month was the completion of the insulation. In addition to all the rigid foam that lines the walls, ceiling, and foundation, pounds and pounds of cellulose insulation (made from recycled newspaper) was blown into the ceiling and wall cavities. It took about a week to get all the gaps filled up, but now we’re confident that this building will be our most energy efficient ever!
Evaluating whether the machines have blown in the right amount of cellulose is an interesting business. Too much insulation and the walls might bow from the weight; too little and there would be gaps where cold air could seep through. It turns out that the best method is fairly low tech: Bob the site supervisor built a one-cubic-foot box and filled it with insulation to the specified weight. First you pat the box to get a feel for (literally) how much the right amount should compress…
…then you pat the walls or ceilings to judge whether they match the box. It may seem like an inexact science, but apparently our sense of touch is good enough to be fairly accurate in this case! Mass Audubon’s Capital Projects Manager Stu thinks they got it just right.
Once the insulation was complete, it is time for the walls. Sheetrock is starting to appear along the hallways and rooms, further defining the spaces where so much great educational ideas will take shape.
In parallel, the behind-the-scenes plumbing and electrical work has been finishing up, ready to be walled in but still appreciated for its tidy and functional construction.
Finally, our design team has been busy making decisions on a weekly basis on the colors, textures, and finishes that will give the space the right ambiance. We’ve settled on a very natural color palette that reflects both the landscape of Drumlin Farm and our farm-y roots, with some practical aspects like an entrance mat that kind of matches the dirt that we know will be on our boots from our time in the pastures and fields.
Look for more updates coming soon. If you would like to learn more about the project, or get involved yourself, we invite you to learn more at massaudubon.org/environmental-learning-center.