Nature Conservancy office features sustainable design

Chronicle Media

Trees, brush and debris of invasive species that are removed as part of The Nature Conservancy’s larger restoration work at the Emiquon Preserve site will now be used as fuel for the site’s newly constructed office and maintenance shop. (Photo courtesy of the Nature Conservancy)

Staff and volunteers at at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve will show the biomass heating system as well as the many other energy-efficient components that comprise the net-zero functioning space at the new office during an open house from 2 to 6 p.m. on April 18, 11304 N Prairie Road, Lewistown.  

The facility will also likely be Gold Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified. Attendees will meet the architects, builders and staff to learn more about the facility and its capabilities.

“This office is designed to create as much energy as it uses,” said Jason Beverlin, deputy director of Illinois River Programs. “We needed a facility that could be efficient and keep up with our needs as we enter the next phases of restoration here at Emiquon and thanks to the support of Tellabs Foundation, we have been able to do that.”

Along with the biomass heater, the site is equipped with a geo-thermal heating and cooling system – which uses about 50 percent less energy than baseline energy-efficient systems.  

A 1000-gallon rainwater storage tank collects water underground from the roof that will be used to clean equipment; native prairie plants will be used for landscaping, therefore needing no irrigation.

“At first, we had a goal of LEED certification, but it became clear with Farnsworth Group’s LEED consultation, Morton Buildings’ superior buildings and the Conservancy’s design choices, that Gold level LEED certification was possible.”

The Conservancy’s state director Michelle Carr will also be on hand to help recognize the team’s efforts as well as the community’s ongoing support of the restoration work at Emiquon.

“We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done at Emiquon, both the completion of this cutting-edge, sustainable office space, but also the incredible work to reconnect Emiquon’s waters to the Illinois River,” said Carr. “Emiquon is the premiere demonstration site for our conservation work along the river and the new office space and maintenance shop allows the space for our tools needed to advance and scale world-class research that is being done here while also keeping a low carbon footprint.”

Restoring Emiquon to a functional floodplain wetland is one of The Nature Conservancy’s restoration goals. (Photo courtesy of the Nature Conservancy)

While the space is environmentally friendly, Chicago-based Eastlake Design Studio incorporated repurposed materials that Peoria’s Whiskey City Salvage removed from closed businesses at the Riverfront Village to elevate the office’s interior design.

“We wanted to make sure that the design added character but also blended well with nature,” Beverlin said. “From beginning to end, this was a collaborative effort and we are excited to share it with our neighbors and supporters.”
To register for the event, contact Cammy Smith at 309-547-2730 or




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