The visitor center at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, The Osprey House, has won the 2013 Sustainability award from the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, Lehigh Valley Branch for best public project. The Nature Center, which recently celebrated its 10th year, has restored the Kittatinny Ridge in Lehigh Gap as its major push for a wildlife refuge in an area where there was no life in the soil.

The United States Green Building Council presents a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design award each year.

Though the Osprey House met many of its standards, Nature Center Director Dan Kunkle said he never applied for the LEED award because the application cost $20,000, and he could use the money better elsewhere. The building council admits that not many nonprofits can afford to pay the application fee.

Scott Ziegenfus, who hikes at the center in Slatington, was aware of the many green features in the building. He contacted Kunkle and said he wanted to nominate the building for the award in the public projects group. The fee was waived for the center.

Kunkle sent him a list of the green features: Superinsulated walls and ceiling, geothermal HVAC, high-efficiency lighting, state-of-the-art sewage system, green construction materials, reuse of existing building, storm water management and CollidEscape on windows to prevent bird strikes.

It was one of five entries in the category, and was chosen to receive the award, which was presented at a council dinner held at Muhlenberg College.