Discovery Center of Idaho - Outdoor Environmental Interests Exhibition Renovation

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Scott Lowe


This project, in collaboration with the USGBC, seeks to find ways to improve upon and implement best practices for a more sustainable and educational outdoor space for the Discovery Center of Idaho. We will be providing ideas and options that other educational and science centers have implemented and tailor them to fit the needs and space for DCI. Our focus will be on converting an existing structure to an educational greenhouse and urban garden, native/low water landscaping, storm water runoff and interpretive information.

Through contact with local garden centers, groups like the Idaho Native Plant Society and the Botanical Garden, and with consideration of the Discovery Center’s potential to set an example of sustainability for other businesses and homeowners in Boise, the outdoor permanent exhibition will provide community resources and education opportunities for people of all ages. Our goal is to provide tangible examples of changes that any business or individual could apply to their own location, and reduce the external negative impacts of their space on the local environment. Rain collection barrels are easily installed and can utilize the full potential of the limited precipitation of our desert region. Recycling organic waste into composting material for the onsite gardens could become part of a new campaign for a city wide compost drop off site comparable to the compost pick up program in Portland, Oregon. Gardening planters will provide spring, summer, and fall day camp opportunities for children to learn about where food comes from, how simple it can be to grow food at home, and the rewards of harvesting tasty fruits and vegetables from an organic source. Native plant plots will have examples of how a yard can be decorated with flowers and grasses that are drought tolerant and require very little water, and still provide exceptional beauty in a landscape.

The Discovery Center of Idaho is a unique, and we believe underutilized and underappreciated, place in Boise. This project has the potential to thrust DCI into a position of action in this community. Through this renovation project, community education programs, and a DCI awareness program, our goal is to increase sustainability in Boise by being an example of how steps toward sustainability can be accomplished. Positive environmental sustainability practices begin with changes made by private enterprises and local people, and we believe that community involvement will increase awareness and participation. We want to contribute to Mayor Bieter’s growing “Boise’s livability” list, reasons why Boise is of the best cities in the northwest in which to live.

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