Sustainable architecture: the most sustainable building in Virginia, USA
Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)‘s $21 million Brock Environmental Center is on track to become the most sustainable building in Virginia and one of the greenest buildings in the world. Slated to open this November, the center will serve as CBF’s regional headquarters and it will play host to various environmental education programs.
Its location in Virginia Beach is particularly noteworthy–the Hampton Roads region contains the fourth-most total assets exposed to climate change after New Orleans, New York and Miami, and the third-highest percentage of area below sea level behind New Orleans and Miami, thus making the area very vulnerable to a hurricane-related natural disaster.
The 10,000-square-foot center is located on less than an acre of its 118-acre site of fragile marshland on the Lynnhaven River known as Pleasure House Point. The area was slated for an 1,100-home development called Indigo Dunes but the community came together with the help of CBF, the City of Virginia Beach and the Trust for Public Land to successfully defeat the development and conserve the land. The center is named after Virginia Beach residents Joan and Macon Brock, who contributed a $3.6 million leadership gift towards the project.
Designed by SmithGroupJJR and Hourigan Construction, the center is on track to achieve the first Living Building Challenge certification in the state, as well as LEED Platinum certification, zero-net-CO2 emissions and zero waste. The building will be the first in the continental United States certified to treat and drink the rain water collected on the roof.
The center’s energy use will be 100-percent offset by rooftop solar and two on-site wind turbines. The center will also use about 20 percent of the energy of a typical building through energy efficiency measures such as natural day lighting, natural ventilation and will reduce energy through geothermal heating and cooling. Also, solid waste from waterless toilets will be composted and waste water will flow into a “grey water” garden.
The building is designed to adapt to rising sea levels from man-made global warming and sits on pilings set back about 200 feet from the river. There is also a permeable parking lot for the 2,500 students and teachers from the Hampton Roads region expected to visit each year.