Earth Ad­vo­cates

Pro­mot­ing un­der­stand­ing in Gar­land County

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by BETH BRIGHT Pho­tos by MARA KUHN and BETH BRIGHT


eep­ing the Nat­u­ral State and Hot Springs green, clean and beau­ti­ful can be quite the un­der­tak­ing, but a lit­tle hard-work and cre­ativ­ity goes a long way. Luck­ily, this com­mu­nity is open to mak­ing small changes that make a huge im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.The Low Key Arts, City Plumb­ing, Heat­ing & Elec­tric Inc., and French Ar­chi­tects are just a few com­mu­nity “earth ad­vo­cates” that are im­ple­ment­ing eco-friendly strate­gies into their ev­ery­day busi­ness so­lu­tions.

Fes­ti­vals are no­to­ri­ous for be­ing messy events, but Low Key Arts makes it a point each year to do more to cut back on the amount of waste gen­er­ated at their two largest events, Hot Wa­ter Hills and Val­ley of the Va­pors. What started as in­di­vid­u­als in the or­ga­ni­za­tion pick­ing up trash and cig­a­rette butts quickly turned into an ef­fort to host events that are “zero waste” cer­ti­fied.

“What started as kind of a grass­roots thing has re­ally turned into some­thing we try to do with ev­ery event,” said Bill Solleder, co-founder. “Ven­dors have to have re­cy­cleable plates and cut­lery, and we have a sus­tain­abil­ity crew that helps di­rect people to where they re­cy­cle items at the event. It can be a hard habit to break for some people, es­pe­cially with cig­a­rette butts, but we make a con­scious ef­fort to keep it clean.”

In 2013, the VOV gen­er­ated .0607 lbs. of land­fill waste per per­son and Hot Wa­ter Hills gen­er­ated .0119 lbs. in 2012, both of which fall in the zero waste cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cri­te­ria. But they don’t limit them­selves to re­cy­cling.

Low Key Arts also uses the power of the sun to pro­vide elec­tric­ity to their stages with so­lar pow­ered gen­er­a­tors from Stel­lar Sun, a ven­ture they hope to ex­pand in the fu­ture of their events.

“The goal is to be 100 per­cent so­lar pow­ered in a few years, but ev­ery mea­sure no mat­ter how small will make an im­pact,” Solleder said.

Much like the fes­ti­vals, the amount of trash ac­cu­mu­lated from work­ing in plumb­ing was enough for Rick Bonte and City Plumb­ing, Heat­ing & Elec­tric Inc., to de­velop a plan for re­cy­cling in the workplace.

“Any­thing that can be re­cy­cled gets re­cy­cled here,” Bonte said, as there are bins for var­i­ous re­cy­cleable ma­te­ri­als spread through­out his of­fice and ware­house. “We gen­er­ate a lot of card­board be­cause wa­ter heaters and tanks and things like that come in big boxes.”

But the ben­e­fits of re­cy­cling go be­yond his busi­ness and spread into the com­mu­nity.

“We also re­cy­cle items for the Mid-Amer­ica Sci­ence Mu­seum for their tin­ker­ing classes,” he said. “We all bring in our empty egg car­tons and paper towel rolls to send to the mu­seum for that.

“Throw­ing things away rather than find­ing ways to re­use them can be a hard habit to break, but it’s amaz­ing what con­serv­ing our re­sources can do.”

Bonte has al­ways seen re­cy­cling and eco-friend­li­ness as “a re­spon­si­bil­ity we all share,” and find­ing ways to in­cor­po­rate this view into his busi­ness model has made an im­pact with his cus­tomers.

“We do ev­ery­thing we can to get our cus­tomers the bet­ter deals in the long run, and en­ergy ef­fi­cient prod­ucts save them money in the long run and can come with nice re­bates on the front end,” he said.

At French Ar­chi­tects, build­ing sus­tain­abil­ity ben­e­fits not only the clients, but the com­mu­nity.

Both ar­chi­tects David French and Zach Ouch­ley are LEED (Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign) ac­cred­ited pro­fes­sion­als who work to bring build­ing de­signs that meet en­ergy ef­fi­cient stan­dards that in turn put money back in the pock­ets of clients.

“Get­ting a build­ing LEED cer­ti­fied can be costly to the client, so many of them opt out of the of­fi­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, but we still work the LEED stan­dards into our de­signs as much as pos­si­ble,” said Ouch­ley.

But much of the de­sign prin­ci­ples have been around for cen­turies and are in­cluded in all as­pir­ing ar­chi­tects’ ed­u­ca­tion.

“If you look back in his­tory at the way build­ings were cooled and heated be­fore heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing, you see the me­chan­i­cal side of the de­signs that worked,” said French. “It’s im­por­tant to think of all as­pects of a build­ing when de­sign­ing some­thing that is go­ing to be en­ergy ef­fi­cient, whether that is us­ing lo­cally sourced ma­te­ri­als or in­cor­po­rat­ing nat­u­ral wa­ter­ing sys­tems into the land­scape.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ouch­ley, things like de­sign­ing build­ings that take ad­van­tage of nat­u­ral day­light to de­crease use of ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing and re­duce heat gain and loss in sum­mer and win­ter are in­cor­po­rated into their ed­u­ca­tion, and are prat­ices that make a dif­fer­ence in the long run.

“I think now en­ergy costs are very low, but they won’t be later on,” he said. “By de­sign­ing sus­tain­able build­ings that are LEED and En­ergy Star cer­ti­fied, you’re think­ing ahead so you aren’t pay­ing for it later.”

Gwen Kud­abeck, Anne Quinn, Shea Childs and Michelle Sestili of Low Key Arts.

Ron­nie Car­roll and Rick Bonte of City Plumb­ing Heat­ing and Elec­tric Inc.

David French and Zach Ouch­ley, LEED cer­ti­fied ar­chi­tects with French Ar­chi­tect.

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