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HARRISBURG, PA-The 12,700-sf Delaware Water Gap Welcome Center here earned a LEED silver-level certification from the US Green Building Council. Green building has become a major initiative in Gov. Edward Rendell’s administration.

“We must set the example by demonstrating that saving precious resources is more than a distant goal, it is a reality we can pursue now,” Rendell says in a prepared statement. “Being recognized by the national council dedicated to sustainable building practices is testimony to my administration’s commitment to energy efficiency.”

The Pennsylvania Department of General Services oversaw the $9.9 million construction of the welcome center that was completed with green features like geothermal heating and cooling. Operators hope the building’s features will allow it to use 30% less energy than similar buildings. Half of the building’s roof is covered by a living garden, while the other half is an outdoor picnic area. The center’s architectural design also includes green HVAC, plumbing, daylighting and electrical systems.

The Delaware Water Gap Welcome Center provides drivers information about road and weather conditions as well as Pennsylvania’s cultural, historical, private and scenic attractions. Calls to the governor’s office were not returned by deadline.

The building is near the border of New Jersey on Exit 210 of westbound Interstate 80 and is operated by PennDOT. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Department of General Services, the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau Inc. developed a partnership to build the welcome center. The center opened in 2006.

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