The new visitor center at U.S. Green Building Council. The project was recognized for the use of environmentally sensitive practices and materials during construction.
This is the fifth visitor center constructed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to receive the coveted LEED certification and the first to reach the Gold level.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council, a nationwide nonprofit organization “committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings,” developed and coordinates the LEED rating system. The four levels of LEED certification are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
“The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is on the forefront of protecting and preserving Virginia’s natural resources, and that commitment to our environment is evident in our LEED buildings,” said DCR Director David Johnson. “Building LEED certified visitor centers in our state parks also allows us to share the important conservation message with our visitors.”
The project achieved 42 points out of a possible 69 available towards LEED Gold certification. These actions fell under five broad categories: building shell, sustainable materials, solar shading, site conservation, and landscaping and hardscaping. Project specifics included:
~Special asphalt roof shingles to reflect the sun’s heat
~Regional and rapidly renewable materials, including bamboo flooring
~Low flow fixtures and lavatory aerators to reduce water use
~Fixed roof overhangs to reduce solar heating during summer months while allowing passive heating from the lower winter sun
~Pervious material in the parking lot to reduce polluted runoff
into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay
“This is the first facility in the agency to achieve Gold status, and a good deal of credit goes to our contractor, Trinity Construction Group, Inc., of Culpeper, Va., who helped us build a superior visitor center with no additional cost,” said DCR Design and Construction Manager Kelly McClary. “By working together, we were able to build a more energy efficient visitor center and achieve a higher certification.”
Signs throughout the building explain the “green efforts” undertaken in the construction of the 4,000 square-foot facility.
“Restrooms in the visitor center are now open to the public and the administrative offices will open in the late fall or early winter,” said DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton. “But design and construction of the exhibit space is on hold pending future funding.”