By Ann Witmer
The Canaan Valley Institute sits amid an unfussy landscape of sedges and reeds four miles from Davis. Contemporary and unimposing, the science center looks like the LEED silver-certified facility that it is.
So the aroma of nut- and chocolate-chip Congo Bars, wafting from an oven, is unexpected. Gary Carr rents the institute’s kitchen for his baking business. At a facility where many people wear several hats, also handles meeting arrangements for the six-year-old building.
Its meeting room, for groups of up to 180, is outfitted with Smart Board technology, state-of-the=-art audio-visual equipment and high-speed Internet access. There’s also a 30-station computer lab, a science lab and a boardroom.
The Institute’s environmental scientists have offices upstairs. They help solve serious water quality problems caused by stream bank erosion, inadequate wastewater treatment and other problems.
As a demonstration, the institute recycles its wastewater. Its treatment “plant” is a lush greenhouse with a bed of tropical plants, three tanks of water plants and a blast of ultraviolet light. The plant life restores the wastewater to gray water, which is used to flush toilets.
Finding ways to treat and conserve water — and showing others how to do that — is what the institute does.
Carr, on the other hand, turns out scrumptious food like frittata sandwiches on croissants. He can do breakfasts and lunches for groups meeting there…or they can bring in their own food.