Sustainable Buildings & Policies

What is Sustainability? Environmental Sustainability is meeting present needs without compromising future generation’s ability to meet their needs. 

Sustainable Living Demo Home

The Sustainable Living Demonstration Home is the previous home of Gertrude “Lucky” Ward which was donated to CEC along with over 70 acres of land in 1997. An initial remodeling was completed in 1999. In 2005 CEC dedicated this early 1900’s farmhouse to as our Sustainable Living Demonstration Home. (Pictured left: Demo Home residents, Keith & Sarah Morey)


To provide the average homeowner with ways to make their homes and lifestyles more environmentally friendly.


Call to schedule for  SLDH due to internal maintenance.  Stay tuned for information on the re-launch of our tours!

  • Energy Partnership – Cope Environmental Center hosted a Sustainable Living Demonstration Home open house for the community to get a closer look at the geothermal system and energy efficient upgrades. Whitewater Valley REMC, Hoosier Energy, Water Furnace & Aire Serv were on hand to celebrate the partnership and answer questions. Read the REMC news brief about the day.
  • Blinded by the Light! – Special thanks to Cindy from Lucinda’s Interiors for the amazing energy efficient blinds featured in the SLDH! Windows are a major source of drafts, so the treatments will go a long way to make the home even more efficient.

The Plan:

Sealing the Envelope

  • Seal, waterproof, and insulate the foundation – (completed 2007)
  • Install exterior insulation. – (completed 2009)
  • Install interior insulation.
  • Install exterior environmentally friendly siding. – (completed 2009)
  • Install attic insulation.
  • Install a new Energy Star roof. – (completed 2009)

Install Energy Efficient Systems

  • Install hybrid solar/wind energy generation system (completed in 2004)
  • Install tankless, on-demand water heater (completed in 2004)
  • Partner with Whitewater Valley REMC and Hoosier Energy to net-meter. (completed in 2008)
  • Install Geothermal system. – (completed 2009) Learn more…
  • Install composting toilet.
  • Install residential graywater system.
  • Install additional alternative energy components to generate all energy used by home.

Interior Work

  • Decorate and revamp interior using environmentally friendly fixtures and products.

Exterior Work

  • Landscape using native plants and in ways to optimize sun exposure and shading for the heating and cooling of the home.
  • Create a garden that will feed the residents of the SLDH.

Green Building at CEC

Maintenance Building:

This building was constructed in 2005 using insulated concrete forms. The structure’s forms are similar to giant cfc – free Styrofoam hollow building blocks. Once the walls are constructed they are filled with concrete and provide a wall with an insulated value of R-50. These walls also withstand hurricane (or tornados in Indiana) strength winds. We used the Aryxx brand of ICFs. The roof is a recycled plastic lifetime roofing product called Ondura. It can be purchased at local home improvement stores. It is a little more expensive initially, but it is guaranteed to last the life of the building. For the siding, we used Hardiplank, a cement fiber board.

Maple Sugarhouse:

This building is constructed from ~98% recycled or reclaimed materials. The siding and door are from another building that was de-constructed on the property. The windows were found in our barn. The trusses were a mis-ordered product on their way to the landfill that we happened upon. Roof – We used Ondura, the recycled plastic, lifetime roof on this structure as well. The flooring is made from chips of Terra Tile from a local company called Terra Green. They make beautiful ceramic tile using recycled glass. When it breaks or there are bad batches, they offer the product in small broken pieces. We used it to cover the dirt floor of the sap house. Terra Green uses it in their parking lot instead of gravel. The front deck and the observation platform inside the sap house is constructed using Trex, a recycled plastic lumber.

Education Center:

When the small education was first constructed in the mid 1990’s, passive solar heating was the biggest consideration. The building is situated with a large glass picture window facing south and wider than normal overhangs. This allows the low-lying winter sun to warm the interior of the building during cold months. The overhang keeps the higher summer sun from heating the building too much in warmer months.

Other Sustainable Features

Have You Seen Us Around Town? – Thanks to the generosity of the Wayne County Foundation and the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, CEC received a new-to-us Jetta that was originally run on CEC’s very own biodiesel. Click here for a picture of the car! Special thanks to TKO Graphix their support, too.

Composting Toilet:

Visitors to CEC use a composting toilet located behind the Education Center. The structure was installed over a decade ago and still works great! With regular rotation and added sawdust, the Clivus Multrum produces useable compost within six years. Many newer models produce even quicker (some within months) and can be installed inside the home. Read more about the trailhead model and others at


CEC received a grant from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation for the purchase of a FuelMeister II biodiesel production system. This system allowed us to use waste vegetable oil (old fryer oil) along with methanol & lye and convert it into diesel or “biodiesel” fuel to be used in our tractors, mowers, & car. All of the materials and supplies for this project were purchased in Indiana. The FuelMeister II system, lye, and other various supplies were purchased from Tri-State Alternative Energy located in Angola, IN. The methanol was purchased from Trueblood Lubricants located in Richmond. At this current time, we are not collecting used fryer oil for biodiesel production.
(Pictured left: FuelMeister II)


CEC heats the Administration Building during the day with a wood stove using wood from the property. To increase the efficiency of this system, we use an Ecofan. These fans are self-propelled with their own motor “driven” by the heat of your stove. The hotter the stove, the faster the blades spin to draw hot air rising from the back of your stove and push it out into the room. Learn more about them at the manufacturer’s website. Special thanks to Barker’s Inc., The Fireplace Shop for donating an Ecofan to the Center! Visit them to buy your fan locally!

Practices & Policies

Buying Policy:

Buying “green” is essential. CEC follows this policy when purchasing items or services for the Center and our programs.

Paper Use:

At CEC we collect office paper that has been used on one side from area businesses. We then load this into our printers and our copier. The majority of our inter-organizational documents that we print are done on the back of used paper. When we must use new paper, we always double side and we purchase 100% PCW (Post consumer waste), chlorine free paper. This means that the paper was made using 100% paper that was recycled by someone else and that no chlorine was used in the whitening process of the paper. Chlorine used for paper bleaching processes has several by –products that heavily pollute air and water.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:

We take the Three R’s very seriously at CEC.

Reduce – We work hard to reduce our use of resources in the first place. We do not make a purchase unless it is absolutely necessary. We also work to make our purchase ones that will not need to be replaced regularly or that will be easily recycled.

Reuse – Before making purchases or throwing something away, we work to find ways to reuse items on a daily basis.

Recycle – We recycle as much as possible within our county recycling program and only have a small amount of trash each week.


  • We take our own cloth bags to the grocery or when running errands for CEC. This reduces the need to consume a plastic bag.
  • We do not purchase bottled water. We reuse our own water bottles and ask guests and program participants to do the same.
  • We combine trips when running errands and make stops in between meetings and other business that takes us around town.
  • We conduct paperless board meetings.
  • We use only compact fluorescent and LED lights.
  • We offer healthy snacks using real food for all our programs. We use organic food as much as possible.
  • We typically use ceramic plates and mugs and real silverware when serving food. For the times when this is not practical, we use biodegradable plates, bowls, cups, and flatware.
  • We have the option for our participants and supporters to communicate/respond/donate electronically.
  • We shut our computers off at the surge protector to reduce the phantom load of electricity that computers and other electronics draw even when they are turned off.
  • We turn off the lights when they are not needed.
  • We compost- especially in the summer.
  • We heat much of the time using a wood stove stocked with firewood from the property, and the thermostat NEVER goes above 68.
  • and lots more!

Do you have a question, challenge, or idea for more ways CEC staff can conserve resources? Write in on our blog!