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Old 05-04-2015, 06:10 PM   #1
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Learning how to transform the Astrodome by touring a German resort

Harris County officials said two of the main things they learned by touring a tropical resort south of Berlin is plant life can thrive in an indoor setting, and, what they need to do to change the Astrodome to make that possible.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett talked with Bernd Green as he walked amongst the flowers, pheasants and flamingos at the Tropical Islands Resort. Green is the resort's horticulture manager and the man who figured out how to make a rain forest grow inside a bankrupt Zeppelin hangar.

"Has this helped you in terms of what needs to be done to grow real, live things in the Astrodome?" asked Channel 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.

"Oh, there's no question plants can grow," said Emmett.

Emmett doesn't want a rainforest in the Dome, but he does envision an indoor park with an educational trail winding through it. An idea Emmett supports so strongly he used campaign funds, not tax dollars, to finance this trip.

Green said success depends on what type of plants are chosen.

"We must choose the right plants so they can also live in shadow areas," said Green.

Green said plenty of natural light is key, which will mean the Dome's shadowed skylights will have to be adjusted to let light in, but not so much the heat burns everything.

Facilities Consultant for NRG Park, Bill Merrell, was also on the tour. Merrell said the Dome's ceiling is much lower than the resorts, so he sees the potential of using a mix of artificial lights and sunlight, instead of relying solely on gigantic windows.

"Those are the kinds of things, technology in a lot of cases that did not exist many years ago, certainly not when the Dome was designed," said Merrell.

As Emmett was concluding his tour he received a generous offer from the resort's CEO. Channel 2 will have that part of the story at 10 p.m.

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