A Natural Fit

Monroe County Earth Day is Celebrated at NCC

At the first county-wide Earth Day festival in Monroe in 36 years, the planet was celebrated with workshops, speakers, exhibits, children's activities, e-cycling, live music and green tours of the Northampton Community College Monroe Campus on April 23.

"NCC is so happy, proud and pleased to host Earth Day in the first LEED gold certified campus in the state of Pennsylvania," Dr. Matt Connell, dean of the Monroe Campus, said at the start of the day-long event. "We're an educational institution first, but our campus is also a laboratory for our students to understand how they can be good stewards of the environment."

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system recognizes construction practices that increase profitability while reducing negative environmental impacts as well as being healthier for the occupants, too. The Monroe Campus, which opened in August 2014, is officially LEED Gold Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Darryl Speicher, an environmental educator and one of the Monroe County Conservation District organizers of the event, says this is the first massive collective celebration in Monroe County since the 1970s.

"We wanted to have a big event. NCC is the ideal location because of the environmental example it sets for the rest of the region," Speicher said. "Today is a day about our community getting together. All the entertainers, all the exhibitors are Monroe County residents. We're all concerned with protecting the environment that we grew up with here. As a child, I spent my days playing in the creek. I want the same thing for my grandchildren."Monroe County Earth Day

Children in attendance were able to participate in interactive and fun games while learning about live snakes, water, recycling, organic farming, wildlife, birds and more. Their parents and grandparents got to take advantage of electronics recycling and tire amnesty sponsored by the Waste Management Authority; Give and Take Day, sponsored by Close the Loop; and speakers including:

John Wooding, Monroe County Planning Commission Director, Retired
Garrett Beers, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Forester
Kathy Uhler, Director, Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center
Geoff Mehl, founder of the Pennystone Project
Dave LaPointe, owner of Sarah Street Grille
Keynote address by Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of PennFuture (past president, National Wildlife Federation).

Live musical entertainment was provided by:

Christian Porter and Regina Sayles Monroe County Earth Day
Nancy and Spencer Reed
Mike Pilgermeyer
Katie Rubino
Sick Whiskey
The Lost Ramblers, "Monroe County's oldest rambling earth band"

Green tours of the campus were offered throughout the day. They were led by Mark Culp, NCC director of facilities and public safety; and engineers Chris Dellinger and Mark Spatz, of Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc.; and Mike Wilk, of the Monroe County Conservation District. Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., and Strunk-Albert Engineering, were both involved in the construction of the Monroe Campus which was designed by the architectural firm MKSD.

The tour highlighted the state-of-the-art, sustainable, energy-saving features that earned the campus LEED certification. 

"NCC is a great example of what you'll see as the norm in the future. This campus is progressive and leading the way," Wilk said at the start of the tour.

The tour highlighted:

  • Flood control and water efficiency:  A storm management plan treats and captures over 95% of annual rainfall by using pervious paving, infiltration basins, and rain gardens.
  • Geothermal heating and cooling: 100% of the campus is heated and cooled with a closed loop geothermal system that takes heat from the ground in the winter for heating needs and cool air from the ground in the summer for air conditioning. The HVAC system is controlled by a computer system that makes adjustments in the building based on occupancy.
  • Solar panels:  Around 40% of the total electric needs of the campus are provided by solar panels found in the parking lots.
  • Wind turbine: An 80-foot wind turbine also generates electricity.
  • The number of trees and vegetations that needed to be cut to build on the site were kept to a minimum, and thirteen wooden acres are protected from any further development.
  • The hills and back areas on the campus are planted with meadow grass, which only requires cutting once a year.
  • Interactive, touch-screen displays in the lobby of each building on campus are available for users to see how much energy is being generated sustainably at the moment and over time.

"There's no better place to show the future of sustainability than this campus here," Wilk said. 

To see more photos of the event, check out this gallery.

Organizations that participated in the biggest Earth Day event in Monroe County include:

Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center
Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center 
Wildlands Conservancy 
Aquashicola Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy 
Pocono Heritage Land Trust 
Josie Porter Farm 
Stroud Region Open Space and Recreation Commission 
Pocono Outdoor Club 
North Pocono CARE 
Friends of Cherry Valley West End Park and Open Space Commission 
Friend of Big Pocono State Park
Close the Loop
Hamilton Jackson Pocono Park & Open Space Commission 

Monroe County Earth DayThe Nature Conservancy 
The Waste Authority 
Brodhead Creek Regional Authority 
Western Pocono Women's Club 
PennState Extension 
Stony Acres Wildlife Sanctuary 
Associated Libraries of Monroe County 
Brodhead Watershed Association 
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 
Pocono Avian Research Center