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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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A New “Green” Destination For Washington Families

May 29, 2009

Seattle, WA – Washington families have a newly "green certified" destination to visit this summer — and it’s within a two-hour drive from Seattle. The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center has received the U.S. Green Building Council certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Scott Thomsen, senior strategic advisory for Seattle City Light, says the learning center, located in the North Cascades National Park, received the certification because of how it integrates human design with nature. For example, he says, the center uses the cooling power of Mother Nature instead of air conditioning in most places.

"It uses open breezeways to cool the building, taking advantage of beautiful views that are surrounding the building; showing visitors the things they are there to learn about; the mountains, the water, the trees."

The learning center's 15 buildings were designed to conserve water and power, says Thomsen, and to integrate with the environs of a national park.

"It was constructed to cause the lowest possible impact on the surrounding area. This is a beautiful, pristine area, which we’re trying to let more folks learn about. But, we didn't want to damage the area in our attempt to give people access to it."

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is only one of six in the nation located inside a national park. It is a joint project of The North Cascades Institute, Seattle City Light, and North Cascades National Park.

The learning center offers family getaways, which include on-site accommodations. Free day-trips and adult field excursions are also available. Information is available at www.skagittours.com.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA