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Ground broken for Eco-Village

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Each will have a different green building design

By John Barnhart

A crowd of about 100 people gathered on a warm autumn evening last week to witness the groundbreaking for Claytor Nature Study Center’s Eco-Village, located in Bedford County.

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    The Eco-Village will consist of eight cabins and will be built about 400 feet from the nature study center’s main entrance, according to Dr. Greg Eaton, the study center’s director. Dr. Eaton hopes to start before the end of the calendar year.
    Initially, two cabins will be built. Dr. Eaton said that they have enough money on hand to build more than two, although not enough yet for the entire eight, but they are still planning out the others. That’s because each will be different.
    “Each will represent a different green building design and material,” he said.
    One of the first two will be of traditional stick-built construction with Heritage High School’s building trades class doing the work, according to Dr. Eaton. It will have extra insulation and will use recycled material as much as possible. Dr. Eaton said that it will probably have solar hot water.
    The second of the two will use structural insulated panels.
    According to Jimmy Farlow, president of SIPS of America, these panels are 10 times stronger than conventional framing. The panels can be used for walls, floor and also for a structure’s roof. In some cases, trusses are not needed when the roof is made of these.
    The panels consist of a sandwich. The outside of the panel consist of structural grade oriented strand board. The interior is made of expanded polystyrene, which gives it insulating qualities. Farlow said that Huber, the manufacturer of the panels, uses 100 percent of the tree. What doesn’t go into the strand board — the limbs and bark — is made into mulch.
    According to Farlow, his company can build structures from these panels that will achieve a 50 percent reduction in heating and cooling costs.
    Dr. Eaton said that they are in the process of planning what features and material the other six cabins will demonstrate. Features that will be incorporated in the Eco-Village include a system to capture rain water and a wetland, which will be constructed to filter waste water. They also plan a solar cell system to help supply the Eco-Village’s electricity, reducing the amount that it will have to draw from the commercial power grid.
    The Eco-Village will be used by Lynchburg College staff and students conducting extended study projects at the nature study center. It will also be available for use by community groups.
    The entire project will cost $2.2 million.    
    The ground breaking event also featured an emotional unveiling of a bronze bust of the late Boyd Claytor, sculpted by Lynchburg College art professor Richard Pumphrey. Claytor is honored in bronze at the site because the Claytor Nature Center would not exist without him. A little more than a decade ago, Claytor donated his 470-acre farm to Lynchburg College for the purpose of establishing the center.