Get to Know a Charging Station Host: Flint Hills Discovery Center

Flint Hills Discovery Center

For the City of Manhattan, the inclusion of electric vehicle charging stations was not an afterthought — it was part of a grand sustainable plan for the revitalization of the south end of their city. The result is an attraction that maintains Manhattan’s sense of identity while energizing the downtown district and attracting out-of-town guests.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center (FHDC) is committed to a broader vision of preserving the very landscape that makes the Flint Hills unique and helps celebrate a region grounded in ecology, history and culture. Susan Adams, Director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, speaks to how electric vehicles fit into the city’s green goals:

How did your commitment to electric vehicle charging begin?

It began with the City of Manhattan’s original plan for the redevelopment of the South End of Manhattan, focusing on an environmentally friendly area and sustainable building design for the FHDC. It was crucial that the design for the building and surrounding grounds of the center be completed with a green mission, as it is key to the center’s messaging: to serve as an example for our community, state, and region. The desire to have electric vehicle charging stations located in this area was also important because it provides EV drivers with convenience and access to a variety of entities: hotels, Blue Earth Park, dining, the downtown area and the FHDC.

Tell us more about the sustainable design of your building.

The FHDC received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Some of its LEED design components include geothermal heating and cooling, use of LED lighting, a green roof, and bioswales for groundwater filtration. More than 85% of the building’s materials were sourced from within a 50-mile radius of the site, including locally quarried limestone. Resources for alternative fuel vehicles are also an important part of our LEED certification. 

Why did you want to offer EV charging?

Owners of electric vehicles are supporting the mission of the FHDC to inspire people to celebrate, explore and care for the Flint Hills by focusing on their personal efforts to do their part. The center was designed to have as little of an impact on the environment as possible and bring positive improvements to the surrounding community and environment.

How did your efforts to offer electric vehicle charging progress?

It was an important component for encouraging guests to this area and a tie to the messaging of the design and green focus for the renovation of the south end development. Our goal of offering the stations was not achievable when the FHDC was opened, but it stayed at the forefront of discussions with potential partners. Evergy would help us later complete that goal.

Tell us about your partnership with the Evergy Clean Charge Network.

In 2019, the charging stations had recently been installed, so the center connected with Evergy to have a representative participate in the Flint Hills Festival, which the center hosts every spring.  This gave the Evergy team the opportunity to meet with community members and out-of-town visitors and promote the new charging stations and their value and purpose.  This collaboration is essential to show the community the importance of working together to keep green initiatives at the forefront of growth.

How have you seen electric transportation grow?

It has been exciting to see electric vehicles in our parking lot and the stations being utilized. Seeing license plates from out-of-state is particularly exciting, as it shows the real-world potential of the charging network for drivers.  The location of these stations allows users easy access to hotels, downtown shopping, attractions, the conference center, and Blue Earth Park as well as FHDC.  It is meeting the needs of those who visit or live in the area and are in need of place to charge their vehicle.

What message do you want to say to EV drivers?

Thank you for taking this important step to support a sustainable future.  Part of the FHDC’s mission is to instill a conservation effort and EV drivers are making that conscious investment to step up, so thank you!

Header photo: copyright: Bowman Bowman Novick. by Rod Mikinski