In 2006, O’Brien & Company was selected by the Washington Energy Technology Center (now Innovate Washington), to conduct a strategic planning process for a Sustainable Energy Demonstration Lab. The Sustainable Energy Demonstration Lab (SEDL) is intended to “foster the community’s knowledge of, and transition to, new energy saving technologies, with an emphasis on renewables.” The project was funded through a legislative grant to the Washington Energy Technology Center, and managed by Friends of the Hidden River, a non-profit formed by members of the original Brightwater Teachers’ Task Force.
Early on, when the idea of a regional environmental education center was broached as mitigation for the new Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility, teachers from the region were adamant that water and energy should be part of the educational plan. “Everything is connected!” was a refrain heard over and over during the planning process.
In addition to facilitating regional stakeholder workshops and interviews, O’Brien & Company conducted nationwide research to identify best practices in renewable energy education, funding opportunities for the SDEL, and implementation issues. Our Final Report provides a summary of this work, as well as an Education and Interpretive Plan and General Program Recommendations.
According to Marie Hartford, a teacher active with Friends of the Hidden River and project manager for our work, our report continues to be the basis for planning and fundraising. Some aspects of the plan have been implemented in the EECC, while others, such as a self-standing “Independence Hall” to promote regional energy self-sufficiency and Energy Test Bed to test advanced emerging technologies are the focus of additional grant applications.
The Lab is an element of the Environmental Education and Community Center (EECC) and Community Park and Environmental Education Center, which opened with great celebration Saturday, September 24, 2011