Officials at Yellowstone National Park report progress on developing a new Yellowstone Youth Campus that will be a home for immersive youth programming in the park, creating a place of learning for future generations of conservationists.

Designed by Hennebery Eddy Architects of Portland, Ore., the new Yellowstone Youth Campus aims to be among the first buildings in a national park to achieve Living Building Challenge certification. The challenge integrates ecological relationships, cultural heritage, stewardship, sustainability and leadership into all aspects of design, construction and operations. 

“The new Yellowstone Youth Campus is an opportunity to support the conservation principles of the National Park Service while reinforcing Toyota’s commitment to the environment,” said Toyota Motor North America Environmental General Manager Kevin Butt. Toyota recently presented a $1-million donation to the Yellowstone Park Foundation to help develop the new campus. “We hope this environmental learning center will inspire and empower future leaders in building a more culturally aware, ecologically responsible and regenerative future.”

While the campus expands, the environmental footprint is expected to shrink with the pursuit of the Living Building Challenge. The buildings are designed to significantly reduce energy use through high-performance insulation and windows, natural ventilation and other passive measures.

Planned photovoltaic arrays on-site will provide more than 100% of campus energy needs, creating excess energy for the grid.

All of the water used on campus will be locally sourced and all wastewater will be treated on-site for reuse. The design prioritizes a healthy indoor environment by using only non-toxic and low-VOC building materials and furnishings.

A contractor has not yet been selected for the project.

Once complete, the campus will serve as a new benchmark for National Park Service projects. It also will serve as the home of two youth programs, each with a national reach—Expedition Yellowstone and the Youth Conservation Corps. Expedition Yellowstone provides week-long residential experiences for grade-school-aged children with a focus on disadvantaged populations, while the Youth Conservation Corps offers a one-month immersive summer program for high-school students.

Replacing the existing Youth Conservation Corps campus, the new youth campus will be able to serve twice the current student capacity with the addition of four classrooms, residential buildings and staff housing on site.