In celebration of Indiana’s Cope Environmental Center achieving the Living Building Certification, Whitewater Valley Rural Electric Membership Corporation (REMC), along with Hoosier Energy, presented a $50,000 check at the center’s open house earlier this week. The contribution will assist the organization in its mission and vision of educating children and securing a sustainable future.
In 2014, the Cope Center announced it would build its new facility with the goal of attaining the rare Living Building Certification. At the time, just 23 buildings in the world claimed this accreditation and only after each had completed the Living Building Challenge. The challenge has proven to be the ultimate green building standard, applicable to any building type worldwide.
“The Living Building Challenge is the most rigorous benchmark of sustainability in the built environment,” said Mary Jo Thomas, President and CEO of Whitewater Valley REMC. “It is the gold standard, and the Cope Center deserves a great deal of recognition for achieving that standard. We’re proud to contribute to the organization’s important mission and support its many contributions to communities in our area.”
Living Buildings are created for the purpose of incorporating regenerative design solutions that improve the local environment, rather than simply reducing harm.
“This is not an easy road to travel, and the Cope Center has persevered,” said Shannon Thom, Senior Vice President of Member Engagement at Hoosier Energy. “We’re honored to be part of the celebration and to provide the funding for the Cope Center that was earmarked for them once they achieved this tremendous milestone.”
In 1947, Jim and Helen Cope purchased 30 acres of farmland between Centerville and Richmond, Indiana, and they began planting a variety of trees, shrubs and other plants. They pursued a sustainable lifestyle which involved the use of alternative energy, energy conservation, composting and organic gardening.
In 1992, Jim and Helen partnered with their friend Francis Parks, a dedicated botanist, horticulturist and conservationist, to create the Francis Parks Foundation and the Cope Environmental Center to give permanent protection to this valuable piece of land and to teach others what they had learned.
The Cope Center is now 130 acres, educating children in outdoor classrooms through interactive, hands-on sustainability and nature-based programming for schools and other groups. The organization partners with businesses, universities, and other non-profits to teach the principles of sustainability.