Senator a budding fan of Walking Mountains in Avon |

Senator a budding fan of Walking Mountains in Avon

Billy Doran | Special to the DailyMark Udall fields questions from the media Friday during a tour of the Walking Mountains campus in Avon.

AVON, Colorado – Walking Mountains Science Center has a new fan: Sen. Mark Udall.

Udall got a quick tour of Walking Mountains’ new campus, now under construction just up Buck Creek north of Interstate 70 in Avon. Udall mostly heard about the center’s main mission of educating local students about natural sciences, got a look one of the three new buildings on the campus, and, befitting a visitor with a keen interest in energy efficiency, took a quick tour of the very small boiler room in the main building.

That boiler room is impressive mostly because of what it isn’t. The boiler for the 12,000 square-foot building is 95 percent efficient, and would sit on an average office desk. The reason it can be so small is that the building is also heated by solar panels that heat water for heating, backed up by a geothermal system. The gas-fired boiler only runs when those two systems are inadequate.

The science center campus was designed to earn a LEED “Platinum” rating. Architect Brian Sipes, who designed the center, said a recent submission of work done so far would have gotten the building a LEED “Silver” rating.

Kids will learn some of that, of course, but the point of the center is to teach kids about the natural world. Gina Garrett, the center’s education coordinator, told Udall about plans to eventually provide classes to every student in the Eagle County School District from kindergarten through high school.

“We’re in a tough economic situation right now,” Udall said. “The way we’re going to grow is through innovation, science and research. Anything to get (kids) interested in science will pay off.”

At the end of the tour, Udall said he’s looking forward to a return trip when the center’s finished.

“I want to play as an adult here,” Udall said. “It’s amazing the amount of thought that’s gone into this.”

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