Madison County Releases Eco-Tourism Guide

Guide Available as a Placemat at Local Restaurants

(Wampsville, NY – May 2013) Want to see a methane digester, wind turbine or solar system up close or arrange to tour one of Madison County’s most sustainable buildings? Madison County has released an Eco-Tourism Guide to showcase the many innovative and forward-thinking alternative energy and sustainability projects throughout the county.

Created by the Madison County Planning Department, this collective guide not only identifies green projects, but also provides ways for residents and visitors to learn more about them including thorough tour information and video links.

“These green projects are not only promoting our local economy, preserving the environment and bringing new vitality to our communities, but they are technologies and destinations that people are interested in visiting,” said Senior Planner Jamie Hart. “This guide is an opportunity to reward these projects and, by telling the stories behind these initiatives, we can inspire others to get out and see these projects first-hand.”

Nine destinations are highlighted in the guide, including the Sheila Johnson Design Center at Morrisville State College, soon to be an officially designated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building. One feature that is helping the building obtain LEED certification, the highest achievable standard for environmentally friendly design, is a geothermal heating and cooling system featuring eight ground-source heat pumps that cycle water and glycol through an underground piping loop.

“We are proud to be featured in this guide and invite people to come out and visit our building or take a guided virtual tour available online,” said Anne Englot, professor of architectural studies and design.

The Fenner Renewable Energy Education Center also is featured in the guide. Located amongst the wind turbines of the Fenner Wind Farm at 5520 Bellinger Road, the FREE Center houses renewable energy exhibits and displays. Information on guided group tours can be found in the Eco-Tourism Guide or by visiting thefreecenter.org; self-tours are available any time.

A new kiosk focused on the biofuel potential of willow crops was installed at the FREE Center earlier this year, and a new pavilion for tour groups will be going in this spring.

With plans to update the guide each year, Madison County hopes to inspire future projects to follow suit.

“Seeing sustainability projects in action is the best way to inspire others to incorporate these technologies and best practices at their own home, business or farm,” Hart said.

Other identified destinations in the guide include the micro-hydro system at Oxbow Falls Park, the Willow Biomass Pilot Project in Hamilton and the technologies at the Renewable Energy Training Center at Morrisville State College, which includes an aquaponics greenhouse and a dairy anaerobic digester.

The Madison County Solid Waste Department, which sponsored printing of the guides on placemats made from recycled paper, also is a destination in the guide; group tours are available to learn about the solar cap over the landfill, the gas-to-energy project and innovative reuse projects at the landfill.

An electronic version of the guide is also available on Madison County’s website at www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/planning/trails.

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