Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center Strengthens Commitment to Environment

Aug. 12, 2010
This facility went green despite a location prone to hurricanes and fires.

Located on an isolated reserve on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center is minimizing its environmental impact, which recently earned the facility LEED-Gold. The $7 million, 20,000-square-foot center is “a green demonstration facility that teaches through its architecture what sustainable design is about, showing how to develop land responsibly in sensitive areas,” said Jim Nicolow, director of sustainability at Lord, Aeck & Sargent, an architecture firm.

The new facility promotes stewardship of coastal resources using an integrated program of research, long-term monitoring, training, and education. Because it is located in a hurricane-prone area, the building is elevated 19.5 feet above sea level on a framework of galvanized steel trusses that sit atop pilings. This is a more environmentally friendly approach than bringing in dirt fill to raise the site, which would have altered its natural hydrology.

Nitrogen loading from failing septic systems represents a key environmental threat to the estuary. The Center boasts a greener alternative to conventional septic systems: an on-site, self-contained bio-filtration wastewater system that can treat up to 1,200 gallons of water daily uses aerobic bacteria to treat the building’s wastewater to tertiary standards.

The building is also constructed from environmentally friendly materials. The exterior siding, which looks like cedar shake, is actually made of 95 percent recycled plastics, fiber and rubber. Beneath the siding is a baseband of fiber cement made from recycled wood fiber.

Another important sustainable aspect of the building’s design is its resiliency features, which protect against damage or destruction from fire and hurricanes. Nicolow says, “with its elevated structure, extensive daylighting, operable windows with interior no-see-um screens (to keep them from blowing off during a hurricane) for passive ventilation, the building is habitable, even when power is interrupted for extended periods.”

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...

The Benefits of Migrating from Analog to DMR Two-Way Radios

Are you still using analog two-way radios? Download this white paper and discover the simple and cost-effective migration path to digital DMR radios that deliver improved audio...