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Environmental education center in Virginia Beach recognized with major sustainability award

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Photo courtesy Brock Environmental Center

A commercial building in Virginia Beach has won the distinction of being the first in the U.S. with a permit to capture rainwater and treat it onsite to meet federal drinking water quality standards.

And that’s not all. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center has raised the bar for sustainable architecture in other ways.

It received a Living Building Challenge certification that recognizes its adherence to one of the toughest and most prestigious building standards in the world. Administered by the International Living Future Institute, these certified buildings – there are only 11 in the world  -- must have “net zero” impact on the surrounding land, air and water.

Completed in November 2014, the 10,500-square-foot center has produced 83 percent more power than it has consumed, qualifying it as a net-positive building. Its 168-rooftop solar panels generate about 60 percent of the building’s energy needs, with two 10-kilowatt wind turbines producing the remaining 40 percent.

 The building also incorporates green features such as residential wind turbines, geothermal wells, composting toilets and passive solar.

In a region increasingly prone to flooding, the building’s elevation comes in at 14 feet above sea level.

“Environmental impact goals that once seemed impossible have been easily incorporated into this beautiful and sustainable building that serves as a guidepost for projects committed to benefit both the community and the environment,” Curtis Elswick, vice president, Skanska USA Building, Program Management Services group, said in a statement.

Skanska served as the owner’s representative and project manager guiding a team through the facility's design and construction.

Located on a site where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, the building allows the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to implement its bay advocacy, restoration and education efforts in one location.

To create the center, Skanska partnered with the foundation and other team members including SmithGroupJJR, Hourigan Construction, A&F Engineers, WPL Site Design and J. Harrison, Architects. The Brock Environmental Center is designed as an international model for energy and water efficiency and climate change resiliency.

The award was presented at the 2016 Living Future Conference in Seattle.

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