Field Trip Fun!

Eco Partners Staff Writer Margot Gibson participated in two tours during last week’s annual Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference. Here are her reflections on the things she saw and learned that day.

Our first visit was to a newly constructed LEED-certified research facility, office, and gathering space called The Center. Located near 71st Street and I-465 on the west side of Indianapolis, The Heritage Group created The Center as a catalyst for growth and an incubator for reuse ideas for its employees, partners, and customers. The building has the look and feel of a trendy Silicon Valley workplace, complete with a living roof and stairs and walls made from repurposed materials. Floor to ceiling dry-erase boards and audio-visual equipment adorn cement-floored multi-functional rooms. Research and product development rooms are stocked with state-of-the-art computers and lab equipment. The building and grounds host a 300-person auditorium, dining rooms, an espresso bar, workout facilities, outdoor cabins, and over 60 acres of trails and outdoor space connecting The Center to Eagle Creek Park.

Since its inception in 1930, The Heritage Group (THG) has managed companies involved in highway construction, environmental services, energy sales, and chemical refining. More than 15 years ago, THG paved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with their proprietary, innovative, high-quality pavement, which is still in excellent condition today! THG’s success is in part due to creative problem-solving which extends across the diverse companies in their group. An example of this was described during our tour. A THG company wanted to save on waste disposal and production costs by recovering and reusing a chemical etchant they used in circuit board production. THG not only was able to create technology for cleaning the chemical etchant for reuse by the company, but in the cleaning process they created a marketable byproduct which is now widely used as an animal feed supplement. This smart technology resulted in reduced production costs, a much lower environmental impact, and additional income.

IRC field trip participants also enjoyed a visit to Eagle Creek Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the nation. In addition to its 3,900 acres of woods and trails and over 1,300 acres of water, Eagle Creek Park is more than a nature preserve. The park also hosts many environmental sustainability programs and events throughout the year for adults and children. Recent park additions include a pond created from Nature Center roof rain runoff, a chimney swift tower, bee houses, and floating wetlands.

Photo caption: Tourgoers learn about Eagle Creek Park’s bee preservation initiative. Credit: Indiana Recycling Coalition

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