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roaring fork conservancy

The Roaring Fork Conservancy is a well-respected local organization dedicated to the protection of the Roaring Fork Watershed.  They provide school and community based educational programs as well as watershed action programs that have a direct impact on the waterways which the entire valley community enjoy. 


The design for the new Roaring Fork Conservancy River Center is aimed at better facilitating the mission of the conservancy.  This new headquarters will serve a multitude of needs.  It will act as an office for the employees of the conservancy, educational facility for students and community members, and a research and testing laboratory.  This structure will not only be the public face of the organization but also enhance the emerging identity of the town of Basalt as an environmentally conscience community. 


The River Center’s first environmentally conscience design decision is to limit the amount of unnecessary volume and size.  It’s a very compact and efficiently organized structure with little excess. The building will provide a highly insulated shell reducing the requirements for energy consuming mechanical equipment.  The window openings will be shaded with a passive screen system utilizing a common expanded metal mesh material.  The mesh by its inherent shape will provide full cutoff from the sun during the most sensitive times of the year without blocking views out.  Operable windows will provide natural ventilation as well as allow the River Center to draw out warm air throughout the night while cool air naturally flows down the valley.  An array of Photovoltaic Panels will provide some if not all of the electrical needs of the building.   


As a part of the design effort, an energy model is being created to map the effectiveness of the design strategies taking into account the local climate.  This model will ensure the indoor comfort of the inhabitants as well as help in evaluating different possible mechanical systems.  One possible system under consideration is a geothermal system that would utilize the neighboring pond as a thermally beneficial feature.  Another consideration is to utilize a radiant cooling slab as an efficient means of providing both heating and cooling.  The ultimate goal however is to eliminate cooling all together by reducing the heat loads of the structure with LED lighting, proper window shading, and optimized natural ventilation.  These strategies aim to be practical and cost saving solutions for sustainable design that take advantage of the natural climate and site offerings. 


The River Center will be an important hub for environmental dialogue in the town of Basalt for years to come.  The design team aims to make the facility a place the Conservancy can be proud of and point to as representative of their mission and beliefs. 

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