Trillium House goes solar | SteamboatToday.com

Trillium House goes solar

Yampa River Botanic Park facility to open in June

Melinda Dudley

Trillium House, the new headquarters for Yampa River Botanic Park, is the latest recipient of a solar electric system funded by the local Sierra Club, to serve as an education tool and to offset the facility’s power needs.

Trillium House is poised for completion by the end of the year, though it likely will not open to the public until June 2009, Botanic Park benefactor and board Vice President Bob Enever said Tuesday night at the park’s annual business meeting.

“We probably won’t want to open it to the public in the middle of a snowstorm. We’ll wait until the flowers are blooming,” Enever said.

Enever and his wife, Audrey, donated the original land for the Botanic Park and, more recently, the site for Trillium House. The timber frame building, designed by architect Ed Becker, of Mountain Architecture Design Group, is on the south end of the Botanic Park and the northern edge of Fish Creek Mobile Home Park.

Trillium House, comprising 1,440 square feet, will include offices for Botanic Park staff, a small public meeting room, bathrooms for park visitors and a botanic library.

“It’ll open up a whole new world of things to do,” park supervisor Gayle Noonan said.

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Trillium House will be the sixth solar energy demonstration project funded by the Sierra Club in Northwest Colorado, chairman Rich Levy said. In addition to a project in Meeker, panels have been installed at Soroco, Hayden and Steamboat Springs middle schools, as well as at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.

The solar panels are due to be installed next week and are expected to generate enough energy each year to offset Trillium House’s electric and heating needs. Additional power generated can be sold to Yampa Valley Electric Association.

“It’ll produce about 500 kilowatt-hours a month,” said Susan Holland, of Steamboat-based solar energy provider Emerald Mountain Energy. “It’s about the size of what we’d put on a normal-sized house.”

Although construction updates on Trillium House were a high point of Tuesday’s annual meeting, 2008 has been a bit of a challenge for Yampa River Botanic Park.

The park’s $44,000 of charitable contributions is 23 percent below 2007 levels. The total number of contributors to the Botanic Park is down 5 percent.

About $350,000 has been pledged toward the construction of Trillium House, a project of about $600,000. The Botanic Park likely will have to plunge into its endowment to fund the rest, Enever said.

Weather also got the park off to a bit of a “tough start” in the spring, Noonan said.

“Everything grew at once, including the weeds,” Noonan said.

However, Noonan noted, community cultivation programs were extremely successful this year. At-risk youth who garden at the Botanic Park earned $325 selling their products at downtown’s summertime farmers market, she said.

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