Q: What is the purpose of the building?
A: To serve as the hub for CBF's Hampton Roads office and support its Bay education, outreach, advocacy and restoration initiatives; to house the offices of Lynnhaven River NOW to offer meeting space for area groups; to serve as a home for field-based environmental education programs; and to showcase cutting-edge sustainable building and living practices—a model for all to see. CBF hopes the new environmental education and community center will engage, inform, and inspire the Hampton Roads community and others to solve the Bay's challenges in innovative, sustainable, and collaborative ways.
Q: What can one expect of the day-to-day use of the site?
A: CBF, Lynnhaven River NOW, and Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation staff will occupy the Brock Environmental Center daily. There will be lectures, meetings, and special events held at the center. CBF education staff will host students and teachers from spring through early winter on site and in adjacent waters. Teacher training programs will be held on site.
Q: How will the new building affect Natural Area space?
A: The CBF property and the City of Virginia Beach Natural Area will be contiguous—there will be no fencing along the boundaries and paths that cross from one property to another. Both properties will be viewed as one parcel in master planning efforts.
Q: What is the Living Building Challenge?
A: The Brock Environmental Center is being designed to meet the Living Building Challenge—a rare designation that requires that the building be so in tune with its site that it has "net zero" impact on the environment. CBF's center will strive to meet a set of strict environmental standards established by the International Living Future Institute. As such, the center would be the first of its kind in Virginia and among only 18 prospective Living Buildings on the East Coast. Learn more about the Living Building Challenge at www.livingbuildingchallenge.org.
Q: What sort of impact will CBF have on the site, both during and after construction?
A: CBF will have very little impact on the biology, land, and functionality of the site; in fact, CBF, through the Living Building Challenge, hopes to enhance this site while demonstrating exemplary environmental stewardship. The building site was specifically chosen for its distance away from the shore (200' from water's edge), and close proximity to the tree line that acts as a buffer. During construction, the contractor will employ strict, environmentally-friendly construction methods and materials. Any of the few, small, live oak trees growing around the building area will be carefully transplanted to another spot on the site, which can be done quite handily due to the sandy soil. In addition, CBF aims to enhance the site's natural habitat through a variety of planting efforts and restoration strategies.
Q: How will the site be enhanced?
A: One way CBF aims to enhance the site over time is through additional native vegetation, carefully selected for its tolerance to the dry, sandy (low-nutrient) soils that characterize the site. There will be no irrigation, fertilization, pesticides, or herbicides used on the site. Some invasive species will be removed.
Q: Will this building be LEED certified?
A: Yes. Just as CBF's headquarters building, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, MD, received LEED Platinum designation (the first in the world to do so), the Brock Environmental Center will strive for LEED Platinum as well as Living Building Challenge Certification.
Q: What does "net-zero water" mean?
A: The building will capture, store, and use only as much water as inhabitants need and use during the course of a year. This will be accomplished by reusing rain water for hand washing, etc., and by conservation using no-flush Clivus composting toilets. All greywater (wastewater generated from lavatories, mop sinks and shower) and additional rain water will be filtered slowly through a native vegetation landscape design technique called biofiltration, also known as a rain garden.
Q: What does "net-zero energy" mean?
A: The building will generate as much energy as its inhabitants use during the course of a year by employing photo-voltaic solar roof panels (which will provide 60 percent of the Brock Environmental Center's energy), two small wind turbines (which will provide 40 percent of the Brock Environmental Center's energy), and using aggressive energy conservation techniques such as highly efficient geo-thermal heating and cooling; natural day lighting; dynamic, architecturally-based ventilation systems; and weather-dependent window opening patterns.
Q: Pleasure House Point is known for its diverse species of birds; how will the wind turbines affect our avian friends?
A: CBF has and continues to exert extensive due diligence on this important issue. Through comparative research and consulting with the College of William and Mary's Center for Conservation Biology, we have concluded that two single-pole residential scale turbines will pose minimal impact on birds. Unlike large, utility-grade turbines that most people imagine when thinking of wind turbines, these much smaller, thinner wind turbines should pose little risk to birds. Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology and published bird expert, has reviewed plans for the wind turbines and concluded: "The 10kw turbines proposed for this project do not in my view present an unreasonable threat to the birds using Lynnhaven."
Q: Where will people park for the building?
A: There will be no paved surfaces whatsoever and no parking lot on Pleasure House Point. There will be four pervious ADA handicap spaces (meeting code requirements) adjacent to the building. Staff and visitors will park at the pump station parking lot (approximately 0.1 mile away) at the corner of Chesterfield Avenue and E. Stafford Street in a lot shared with the City of Virginia Beach that holds 27 spaces, then walk on a path to the Brock Environmental Center. If there is a need to drop off something or someone, there will be a pervious 16'4"-wide access road that will approach the building. For special events, 80-90 parking spaces are available along the southern and northern side of Marlin Bay Drive School buses will drop students off at the end of Marlin Bay Drive, where they will walk a path to the center, beginning their environmental education outdoor experience at that point.
Q: How are you preparing for major storm events, flooding, and sea-level rise?
A: The center will sit on pylons which will allow any flood water entering the site to remain onsite and either permeate or recede without causing damage to the building. The proposed building's first floor elevation is 13.8' above sea level. The center will be designed with a 500-year storm event in mind (well beyond the required 100-year flood event preparedness). It will be unaffected in tidal ranges up to 7' above sea level. We believe that 13' 8" should give us a 500-year protection with an allowance for 5' of waves as well. Even accounting for the medium case sea level rise (~2.5' in 100 years), we'd have 3' of wave clearance in the 500 year storm event.
Q: What about the 'McLeskey lots,' adjacent private land that was not purchased as part of this acquisition?
A: McLeskey Associates own a plot of 15 private lots in the northern section of Pleasure House Point (south of Chesterfield Ave.) and five private lots near Crab Creek. From what we understand, the owner of these lots has applied in the past for a permit to build Marlin Bay Drive and therefore eventually allow for the development of these lots. CBF has no control over the use of this private property. The preservation of PHP site never included the separate, privately owned McLeskey lots. If Marlin Bay is built and if city traffic engineering determines that CBF should use Marlin Bay extended once it is built, CBF will comply. CBF understands from discussion at public meetings that the City of Virginia Beach had been encouraging the developer to build an environmentally-friendly road and reduce development density at the site but CBF cannot directly speak to those discussions because we were not a party to them.
Q: Financially, what is involved with building the Brock Environmental Center?
A: A $20 million campaign has been launched to support creation of the Brock Environmental Center, enhance environmental education programs, improve habitat, and create a venue for community collaboration. The campaign includes $10 million to acquire the land and construct the building; $5 million for programs to improve water quality, including advocacy, environmental education, restoration, and outreach; and $5 million to endow the center and its education and community programs. We have named the building to honor Joan and Macon Brock for their generous leadership gift.
Q: When will construction begin? When will it be complete?
A: CBF plans to break ground in late summer 2013 with completion and occupation expected in early fall 2014.