The film in the Blue Planet Exhibit at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center will soon get a $300,000 upgrade with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funding. 

The exhibit’s interactive film covers the history of water in Gwinnett County, with features like a moveable topography map with a small water and light show that engages with the film. Since its debut in 2006, the Blue Planet film has been a popular attraction, educating school-aged children and residents about the water cycle, habitats, constructive and destructive forces.

The film will receive audiovisual upgrades and enhancements to include current county happenings, new branding and research initiatives at the Water Tower, a water industry and conservation facility in Buford.

In April 2023, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved the updates using funds from the 2014 and 2017 SPLOST programs. Virginia-based firm Cortina Productions, which produced the original multimedia theater’s video and interactive programs, will design and produce the upgrades.

“As this exhibit is nearing its 20th anniversary,” said Jason West, deputy division director for Gwinnett County, “it was time to review it and make sure that it was reflective of the Gwinnett of 2023 in terms of diversity, information, technology and more. Our team is currently working with Cortina Productions on this project.

“Showcasing the importance of water and how we as a community treat, respect, conserve and utilize this natural resource begins conversations and develops understanding, especially among students,” West continued. 

The updated film is set for completion by February 2024.

While the “Blue Planet” film provides visitors with a better appreciation of natural resources and the community’s conservation projects, the entire center focuses on the value of water and conservation in action. The building itself is a model of eco-smart innovation. Sustainable features include a one-acre green roof, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylight harvesting, a cooling shoals water feature that functions as part of the cooling system, porous paving to decrease storm-water runoff and a fan-assisted natural ventilation system.

In addition to the film and hands-on exhibits for children, the center has a laboratory, walking trails, Treetop Quest obstacle courses, a gift shop and office space.

Set on more than 200 wooded acres near the Mall of Georgia, the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center is located at 2020 Clean Water Drive in Buford. Center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and park hours are from sunrise to sunset.

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