A leader in the protection of water and environment, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the first environmental not-for-profit in central New Jersey, is embarking on a bold plan to transform the heart of its 930-acre Watershed Reserve into a teaching model for sustainable living.

“The challenges facing our water and environment continue to mount,” said Jim Waltman, Watershed Association Executive Director. “We simply must change public mindsets, behaviors, and policies to protect our natural resources before it’s too late. Our new Center for the Environment will model sustainable technologies and smart strategies to save energy and water, and restore the environment for civil engineers, building contractors, municipal leaders, and individuals for generations to come.”

The Watershed Association plans to create the new center to serve as the central hub of all of its activities. It is designed to achieve LEED Platinum Certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (the highest possible rating) and will demonstrate environmentally responsible technologies while providing classrooms, halls for interactive exhibits, a laboratory, computer learning center, conference rooms, kitchen space, and staff offices. It also plans to redesign the trail network on the 930-acre Watershed Reserve to better serve and educate guests of all ages and mobilities about the Reserve’s distinctive habitats and to fortify the organization’s endowment to provide for the responsible maintenance of the new facility and ensure the Watershed’s margin of excellence in the future.

“We are working to transform the heart of our Watershed Reserve into a bold and inspiring model for how we can all live more environmentally responsible lives,” added Mr. Waltman. “The new Center for the Environment (designed by Farewell Architects, LLC), will increase our program capacity by more than doubling our available space. It will provide teaching and research facilities to heighten the rigor and sophistication of our scientific and educational curricula, and model innovative behaviors and technologies to reduce energy and water consumption and restore environmental health in rural, urban, and suburban areas.”

The “Pass It On” campaign goal is $10 million –– $7 million for the new Center, $2.5 million for the Watershed Association’s endowment, and $500,000 for operational and transition costs; so far over $5.25 million has been raised. “We have obtained approval from the zoning board,” said Waltman, “and need to raise another $750,000 in gifts and commitments in order to break ground in 2012. We are reaching out to local business leaders, foundations and individuals to join us in this important effort that we know will benefit the entire State.”

For more information about the project and how you can help, call the Watershed Development Office at 609-737-3735 or visit www.thewatershed.org and view the featured video.

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