Dairy barn awarded Randy Udall Grant | PostIndependent.com

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Dairy barn awarded Randy Udall Grant

Sustainable Settings, the nonprofit ranch and whole systems learning center south of Carbondale, is moving ahead with its "Run-on-the-Sun" dairy barn, thanks in big part to a $75,000 grant it received last month from Pitkin County and CORE, the Community Office For Resource Efficiency.

The dairy barn has been part of Sustainable Settings co-founder Brook LeVan's vision for the ranch since the late 1990s. It is being built to accommodate the thousands of learners of all ages who come to the ranch each year, so it needs to work for cows and people.

The grant for the barn was awarded by CORE through its annual Randy Udall Energy Pioneer Grant program, which is named after the founding executive director of CORE.

This new learning barn will be an example of state-of-the-art green building methods, resource efficiency and energy efficiency. It is under design with Carbondale architect Steve Novy and his firm, Green Line Architects.

"This is a hands-on building that people will experience and learn from, thanks to Brook LeVan's vision, it is a model of efficiency and whole systems design," Novy said. "My hope is that it will inspire us all to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency in every building we design and/or build."

Novy, whose residential work includes some of the greenest homes in the region, has a proven record of working with nonprofits. He recently helped coordinate Temple Grandin's visit to the valley with two of his nonprofit clients, Sustainable Settings and Ascendigo, which serves people with autism. He also designed The Yellow House, a group home in Carbondale that houses adults with autism.

LeVan said the barn also needs to work with the environmental ethic at the center of the ranch's mission.

Sustainable Settings is an entrepreneurial non-profit organization established in 1997 by Brook and Rose LeVan. Its mission is to inspire people and communities to embrace integrated solutions for sustainable agriculture and community development.

To accomplish Sustainable Settings' mission, the LeVans have built a working ranch and Whole Systems Learning Center. They and their crew research, design, demonstrate and teach whole-systems strategies in sustainable agriculture, holistic land stewardship, renewable energy, green development, and micro-enterprise. Through educational programs, they work to "raise awareness of our place and purpose, as human beings, in Nature's rich and diverse living matrix."

"Our intent is to raise the bar, setting the standard for future sustainable agricultural facilities that demonstrate the viability of 'beyond-organic local food systems,'" Brook LeVan said.