SHARON (09/19/2016) – More than 70 alumni, clergy, youth, and donors gathered at Silver Lake Conference Center on Sunday to dedicate the newly renovated building known as "The Lodge." The dedication marks the end of a year-long project to rebuild the site's oldest building using some of the most modern and environmentally sustainable building techniques available.
"It's a blessing to transform the oldest building of the original Silver Lake site into something that fits so beautifully into the mission and vision of Silver Lake and for our future," said Silver Lake Executive Director the Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer.
That mission and vision has much to do with the Passive House Building standard used to renovate the building. Passive House standards create a space that is up to 70% more energy efficient and costs up to 90% less to heat and cool.
Site Manager Greg Arifian spoke about the technical aspects of the projects. He shared information about the efficiency of the windows and their critical role in heating and cooling the space; the extensive insulation of the wall, ceiling, and floors; and described a ventilation system that reclaims energy from discharged air with close to 80% efficiency.
While speaking of the work it took to complete the project, Arifian emphasized how important it was that many of the young people who worked on the project over the summer "have a renewed passion for the building," a passion shared by those present. When asked how many of them had stayed in the Lodge, made donations to the project, or spent time working on the building over the years, nearly every hand in the room went up.
James Hartford, the project's lead architect, said Passive House construction began in the 80s during the energy crisis but did not grow in popularity until more recently. He confirmed a statement by Arifian that the Lodge is the first rentable Passive House building in the state. Hartford has developed several residential and commercial Passive House buildings in the New York and New England region. He says temperate climates like that found in CT and the region are particularly well suited for Passive House designs.
During the dedication blessing, Gackenheimer spoke the words, "Sanctify what has been retained and bless all that is new," a suitable sentiment for the Lodge project. One of the most challenging aspects of the design, according to Hartford, was balancing the new energy efficient elements with older aspects of the building. Though several people commented on how different the interior looks, much of the charm of the old building remains. The central stone fireplace and the unique arched bookshelves still dominate the main gathering room. In other rooms, new wall paneling was matched almost seamlessly with original wood paneling. White ventilator discs can be found in the ceiling only feet away from older wood panels still showing their original square nails.
Conference Minister the Rev. Kent J. Siladi asked the the gathering for words inspired by the building and what they thought the future would bring. "What will people do here?" asked Siladi.
"They'll pray," said one. "They'll be renewed," answered another.
"They'll be transformed."
For those who wish to help Silver Lake put the finishing touches on the Lodge, contributions can be made to the Lodge Furnishing Project.
Drew Page is the News & Media Editor for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.