Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Energy efficient new housing for endangered animals at Duke Lemur Center

by Greg Dye, Operations Manager
After more than 10 years of planning, a year of actual construction and several million dollars, Pyxis, Hunter and their five kids moved into their home. From a historic stand point the event was very non dramatic. The seven red ruff lemurs voluntarily walked into their kennels during the morning’s training session and then were literally carried down the road and released into their new habitats. It only took a couple of minutes before all seven started exploring their new digs like children finding an unexpected stash of Christmas presents.

This building is one of two that will be home to 60 lemurs. It’s called the Releasable Building because it was designed with the purpose of giving the lemurs the ability to free range in acres of Duke Forest. Additionally the building provides every lemur with spacious indoor/ outdoor habitats when it’s too cold for them to be romping around Duke Forest. Habitats can be reconfigured by providing interconnecting pass-throughs and over head tunnels to create multi-dimensional suites for a lemur family. The interior space will be kept at a warm 68 to 72 degrees during the winter and air conditioned during the summer. A built-in watering system provides the lemurs with clean filtered water 24/7. Each of the new buildings is equipped with a gourmet restaurant quality kitchen space, state-of-the-art veterinary examine room and a work space for researchers. There are even more design features that have led to the building receiving a silver LEED rating. For those of you not familiar with the LEED rating, it’s a way of measuring the energy efficiency of a building. Features such as: the use of energy efficient windows that allow natural light to pass through so that less electricity is used to light the building, using special water fixtures that reduce the building’s water usage by 15,000 gallons a year, using more than 20% recycled building material and making sure that 70% of the construction waste was recycled along with the use of motion sensors that turn on and off lights that will save 20% more energy all reflect the Lemur Center’s commitment to preserving the world around us. As for the lemurs, I think it’s accurate to say that many of these details escape them, but they sure seem to enjoy them none the less.

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