Green Building Features
The Exploration Center is a model for sustainable, environmentally sensitive design, construction and operation. This type of construction helps create a healthier environment, minimizing adverse impacts on the natural systems that support life on land and in the ocean. The Exploration Center demonstrates a variety of strategies to achieve these goals, using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria.
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Thomas Hacker Architects Inc. designed this architecturally distinct building to meet the standards for a LEED Gold Certification. LEED, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings, emphasizes the best strategies for sustainable development with emphasis on water consumption, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
For easy access and to preserve open space while minimizing disturbance, the Exploration Center was built on a previously developed site within a quarter mile of bus lines and along existing bike trails. During the building process, 95% of construction waste was recycled diverting it away from the landfill. At least 20% of materials were manufactured and processed within our region. The design uses Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable wood and materials with recycled content including glass, carpets and insulation. Ample, indirect natural daylight and use of thermally insulated glass that transmits light, but limits heat gain, enhances indoor comfort while providing excellent views of the sanctuary.
To improve indoor air quality, the center uses urea formaldehyde-free composite wood products and paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants with the lowest possible levels of Volatile Organic Compounds. The center reduced its energy consumption by more than 15% in comparison to traditional buildings by using a roof-top photovoltaic system, set-back thermostats, occupancy sensors for lighting and exterior sunshade devices, overhangs and baffles that reduce solar heat gain and glare. Fan-assisted stack towers provide natural ventilation. These and a light-colored roof also help optimize energy performance and improve thermal comfort and air quality for occupants.
To hold and filter storm water on site, the center uses bioswales and have an above ground cistern to irrigate drought-tolerant, native plants in the landscaping. The center reduced its water usage even further, while still maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness, by incorporating high-efficiency plumbing fixtures such as dual flush toilets, automatic sensors in lavatories and low-flow or aerated bathroom fixtures and faucets.