Rethink: It has been a Long Time Coming

It has been almost a year since my last Rethink blog post – an eternity by some measures – so what have we been up to?

While there have been many small steps towards reducing our carbon footprint, such as now using compostable cups in our new Chatterbox Café, the big news is happening outside.

Every year we face the same issue – the weather. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Throughout the year, we face the challenges posed by changes in the weather.

If only the entire Museum was indoors, where we could control the environment. Certainly a few have dreamed about this, even if only in a facetious manner. Like envisioning a large geodesic dome, which will tower over even our largest building – the 20 story tall Mill building. Architect designs would have the dome be distinct as the Mill itself, casting the Museum as a true modern landmark within the corridor. Within this new structure, a comfortable temperature of 24 degrees will be maintained year round, and to allow for longer visitation hours during the shorter winter days, lighting which mimics the strength of the sun will allow visitors to bask in the warmth well into the night.

Well, we can’t achieve the geodesic dome, but we are seeing big changes happening on the site.

The first change is already dramatically reducing our use of propane. We have converted our heating system for our gold panning water from propane to on-demand electric. This project was completed in February of this year. An added benefit of the switch to electric is that we now have greater control over the temperature of the water in gold panning.

Perhaps the even bigger news is that we will be installing a 6.2kW solar array on the roof of the Visitor Centre. The solar panels are placed on the roof using a racking system weighed down with ballast rather than hard mounted to the roof, which eliminates roof penetrations with fasteners and maintains the roof membrane integrity. The photovoltaic array and associated systems will be installed by Riverside Energy Systems by the end of April 2017. The system has a significant monitoring and data-gathering capability so we will be able to track system performance and our energy savings over the long term.

Funding for these projects was provided in part by the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund Program and also in part from Squamish Savings and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.