This May, the Brock Environmental Center was awarded the coveted Living Building Challenge designation from the International Living Future Institute, the world’s most rigorous and ambitious performance standard for buildings. The designation was a humble recognition of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s realized dream: to create a facility that positively impacts its surroundings, creates its own energy and water requirements, and stands as a model for the future of sustainable construction and engineering.
The Center is, indeed, a living building. Today, in addition to producing more power than it consumes and producing its own drinking water from rainwater, residents of Virginia Beach and surrounding communities are invited to enjoy the building and its grounds. It drew approximately 35,000 visitors last year—while staff anticipated about 1/7th of that.
Among the Brock Environmental Center’s components of sustainable construction and engineering to meet the Living Building Challenge’s seven petals are:
- Net Zero Energy: Energy use is reduced by 80% when compared to a typical office building, and the facility produced 83% more power than it consumed in 2015. This excess power is sent directly back into the grid to help power adjacent homes and businesses.
- Rainwater collection and treatment systems, for collecting rainwater to create drinking water and for use in sinks and showers (greywater); 100% of the water is collected and treated on site.
- Composting toilets (blackwater), to transform human waste into usable compost.
- Stormwater management systems, which help water to recharge into the ground through permeable surfaces.
- Renewable energy technologies, including photovoltaic solar cells, two wind turbines, geothermal wells, heating and cooling retention, rainwater usage, that each contribute to the facility being a net-zero energy building.
- Reclaimed and salvaged exterior and interior materials, such as sinker cypress wood siding, gym flooring re-purposed and re-finished for flooring, and old school gym bleachers for interior trim, salvaged ceramic, and champagne corks are repurposed as knobs
- Triple-glazed windows with a high insulating capacity, created with 100% FSC certified wood frames.
- A preserved waterfront site that allows visitors to connect to nature.
- Architecture that limits straight lines, which do not exist in nature.
- Access to the building that limits vehicular traffic and encourages walking and biking.
For those involved in the creation of the Brock Environmental Center, this was more than a construction project. The challenge of building the Center became a passion, forming a bond that transcended a working relationship among all of the individuals and companies involved.
Like what you've read?Subscribe >