Highly Efficient "Innovation Center" Breaks Ground

Oct 15, 2014

Town government officials joined staff from Rocky Mountain Institute on Wednesday to mark the start of construction on RMI's new Innovation Center.
Credit Marci Krivonen

A second groundbreaking in Basalt this week marked the start of construction on Rocky Mountain Institute’s “Innovation Center.” The non profit is building a $15 million highly energy efficient building near the Roaring Fork River in Old Town. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Those involved in the construction project grabbed shovels on Wednesday and nudged them into the ground, symbolizing the start of work here. The new center is where the old Taqueria El Nopal restaurant stood, alongside Two Rivers Road.

Basalt Mayor Jacquie Whitsitt told a large crowd the new development marks an exciting change in downtown.

RMI co-founder and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins said seeing the Innovation Center take shape marked one of the most exciting days in his life.
Credit Marci Krivonen

"I’m really, really happy to see everybody here. It’s a huge big deal to us and I think, to Rocky Mountain Institute as well."

It is a big deal for the organization that began in Old Snowmass in 1982. RMI calls itself a “think-and-do-tank” that researches and educates people all over the world about energy efficiency and sustainability.

The new “Innovation Center” will feature a cutting edge integrative design and is expected to be the one of the most energy efficient buildings in the United States. It will use less electricity than its renewable power system creates, and...

"It will also be designed in a way to really fit into this beautiful setting. It will be very good in its use of water, so it’s sustainable along multiple dimensions," says CEO Jules Kortenhorst. 

He says the facility will feature a library, conference center and offices for up to 50 staff. The center’s meant to be a “living laboratory” where business leaders from around the world can visit and replicate such a design. Construction officially starts next week. The building should be operational by December of 2015.