Recycled products make up bathroom at PECI to honor Jim LaFortune

MOSCOW, ID - The average restroom might not catch your eye, however there is one in the region that's being built in Moscow at the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute that is worth noting.

"It's really going to be the best place to use the restroom this side of the Cascade Mountains," said PECI Executive Director Tom Lamar.

It's complete with fine art, granite counter tops, and a sustainable sewage system. And, you'll never guess what it's made out of.

"So underneath to stucco is roster block," said Lamar. "And it is a styrofoam block that looks kind of like a rice krispie treat."

The recycled styrofoam is held together with concrete, and the blocks are held together with rebar. The final result is a very well-insulated building. On Friday, PECI volunteers applied the final coat of stucco to the building. They gave me a chance to try it out for myself, and it's not as easy as it looks.

PECI is an educational institute that sees about 3,000 visitors a year. Most of them are students that come to explore the outdoors. The restroom, or "groover" as they like to call it, is a memorial to Jim LaFortune, who passed away in 2010 from brain cancer. He was a science teacher at the junior high school, as well as an advocate for outdoor education.

"It's a perfect memorial for Jim, if you had known him, you would know why," said Jim LaFortune's wife Kathie LaFortune.

The memorial has been in the works for more than a year and those who knew Jim are very excited to see it come together.

"When I'm working on it, I like to think about Jim, and what he meant to this community," said Lamar.

"A month or two after he died when we came up with this idea, it just made me happy," said LaFortune. "And it was one of the few things that did."