Brock Center Wows Governor McAuliffe
On the eve of Earth Day this year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe took his first tour of our Brock Environmental Center since the building's completion. "Yes, he's the governor, but Terry McAuliffe couldn't help but blurt a 'Wow!'—like just about every other visitor to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center," the Virginian Pilot noted.
Photos (top to bottom): Governor of Virginia McAuliffe participating in an education experience (photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.) and testing the water at CBF's Brock Environmental Center (photo by Christy Everett/CBF Staff)—the first commercial building in the country to receive a permit to capture and treat rainwater for drinking water. Water-filtering oysters ready to be placed on a reef (photo by Jackie Shannon/CBF Staff).
The visit came just before the Brock Center officially earned Living Building Challenge certification. One of the toughest building standards in the world, it requires a building to produce more energy than it uses over the course of 12 consecutive months and meet a host of other strict criteria for water use, site, health, materials, equity, and beauty.
The governor had last visited the center back in May 2014, when it was still an unfinished construction site. Since its opening a year and a half ago, the building has far surpassed expectations for efficiency and production of water and energy. With the certification, it's now a proven, replicable concept.
The Brock Center's solar panels and two small residential wind turbines have produced nearly twice as much energy than the building has used. The center is also precedent-setting as the first commercial building in the continental United States to receive a permit to capture and treat rainwater to federal water quality standards for drinking water. On his tour, Governor McAuliffe made sure to take a drink of Brock’s filtered rainwater, deeming it delicious.
The center is also an open book for others to learn. It has become an important part of the community, hosting conferences, discussions, meetings, and local events for all. In the process, the building has inspired the more than 30,000 people who have visited since it opened.
After his tour of Brock Center, Governor McAuliffe headed to the beach in front of the building to meet Virginia Beach Middle School students participating in a CBF education program. He joined the students in pulling a seine net through the Lynnhaven River, examining fish and crabs, and undertaking water quality testing. It was just one of the many CBF hands-on field experiences taking place across Virginia this spring, giving students a meaningful connection to our waters.
CBF volunteers in the Hampton Roads area are also getting their hands dirty with efforts that help bring back the iconic Chesapeake oyster. Throughout the spring, volunteers came to our Virginia Oyster Restoration Center at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to help make concrete reef balls that will become homes for oysters. Reef balls are hollow, dome-shaped structures placed in local rivers. Baby oysters attach to the reef ball's outer and interior surfaces, allowing the oysters to grow and reproduce. Ultimately, these oyster reefs become important habitat for fish and other marine life.
In June, CBF oyster gardeners will come together in a series of oyster round-ups and seminars for new growers across Virginia. These volunteers are making a difference by growing baby oysters from their dock or marina—a low-maintenance and fun family activity. After a year, CBF places the oysters on Virginia sanctuary reefs to grow and reproduce.
CBF's oyster gardening seminar teaches oyster growing basics to new gardeners and provides them with a growing setup and baby oysters. On the same day, CBF holds round-ups where returning gardeners swap out their full-grown oysters for new baby oysters. This year, CBF is looking to grow this program, so please spread the word to waterfront homeowners. We have locations on the Eastern Shore, Northern Neck, Norfolk, Hampton, Deltaville, Newport News, and Virginia Beach. Those interested in joining can find registration information online.
Hampton Roads Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation