The Macon and Joan Brock Classroom

Brock classroom Seine clear water 1171x593

Students attending the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Studies Program at CBF's Brock Environmental Center, catch everything from pipefish to blue crabs to red drum, which helps them survey biodiversity and gauge the health of Crab Creek and the Lynnhaven River.

Chris Freeman/Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Building Forward

Virginia Beach City Public Schools and CBF are partnering on a unique environmental science program for high school students at CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach. The program uses the Brock Center and its natural surroundings to broaden students' understanding of sustainability and the environment.

There's nothing more important than educating the next generation about the environment and sustainability. A classroom at Pleasure House Point opens a world of exciting possibilities that will have a ripple effect on the community and beyond for years to come. I'm so proud to support this mission.

—Joan Brock

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Studies Program (see videos below) is based in this new classroom, which mirrors the Brock Center in both design and function, matching its look and following the same strict sustainability practices that allow the Brock Center to be a world leader in sustainable design and construction.

This effort is a continuation of a 25-year partnership between CBF and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, both of which are nationally recognized for their sustainable buildings and green initiatives. We're working together on a cutting-edge concept in education that will educate local students, train teachers, and inspire the next generation of leaders.

The new classroom at the Brock Center is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Joan Brock.

CBF also offers educational field experiences at the Brock Center and other areas in Virginia through our Environmental Education programs.


Studying the Environment at CBF's Macon and Joan Brock Classroom
Juniors and seniors participating in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Studies Program at CBF's Brock Environmental Center classroom share their joy of the program and future hopes and dreams.

The Environmental Studies Program
Sand, sun, and surf redefines what a classroom can be. The Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Science Program provides juniors and seniors with a unique, immersive learning experience.

Chris Freeman, Environmental Studies Program Coordinator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, introduces this unique program held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center. The Environmental Studies Program offers a unique opportunity for junior and senior high school students to expand their understanding of sustainable economics and business innovation, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, and natural resource stewardship.

FAQ: Classroom at the Brock Center

Why did CBF build a sustainable classroom at the Brock Center? 
Virginia Beach City Public Schools first approached CBF in 2016 about hosting this innovative new concept at the Brock Center. CBF is working closely with the community and school division on new ways to protect the beautiful Pleasure House Point campus while educating and inspiring local students and the community. This model sustainable classroom adds to the existing education programs at the Brock Center.

Where is the classroom built?
The classroom has been added to the east end of CBF's Brock Center with minimal impact to the surrounding environment. It lies more than 200 feet from the shoreline to leave a protective buffer along the Lynnhaven River. This location will provide the classroom with natural Bay breezes and take advantage of daylight to reduce energy needs, mirroring the Brock Center's energy-efficient design.

How has the community been involved in the process?
CBF hosted several community meetings throughout 2019 to inform the community about the project and the classroom design. Download a PDF of the July 30, 2019 community meeting presentation.

Is the classroom as sustainable as the Brock Center?
Yes, the classroom follows all the same sustainable principles used at the Brock Center, including energy efficiency, renewable power, drinkable rainwater, composting toilets, and a low-impact design.

Which architects and contractors worked on the classroom?
Norfolk-based Tymoff+Moss Architects have led the design of the project, while Conrad Brothers, also locally based, is built the classroom. Civil engineering firm WPL, based in Virginia Beach, completed the site design master plan for Pleasure House Point, the Brock Center, and the classroom. Additional support has come from the team that designed and built the Brock Center, including Greg Mella of the architecture firm SmithGroup and Hourigan Construction. CBF is excited to have such a strong and knowledgeable team to make this project come to life.

Does the classroom follow design principles similar to the Brock Center?
Yes. In addition to using similar sustainable features, the classroom's design follows the same principles as the Brock Center to complement the existing building and surrounding beauty of Pleasure House Point.

How were trees on Pleasure House Point being protected while the classroom was built?
Trees in the classroom footprint, including live oaks, cedars, and loblolly pines, were transplanted to protected areas near the construction site and around the Brock Center property. CBF will also plant ten new trees around the property.

Will there be additional wind turbines added to the Pleasure House Point Property?
No. The classroom will rely on the excess energy produced by the Brock Center, with added solar panels if needed.

How was the classroom built and who will operate it?
A generous donation from Joan Brock covered the cost of building the classroom. Virginia Beach City Public Schools will cover the cost of anything directly related to educating its students in the new classroom.

What is the goal of the new Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Studies Program?
The Environmental Studies Program empowers students to broaden their understanding of sustainability and the environment by using the Brock Center and surrounding natural community, implementing environmental service-learning projects, and integrating interdisciplinary instruction. To learn more visit or follow the program on Twitter @VBEnvStudies.

Where do school buses and students park?
The buses drop students off at the end of Marlin Bay Drive at the same bus parking area currently used by visiting school groups. From there, students walk the natural path from Marlin Bay Drive to the classroom. Students who choose to drive to the classroom will also be required to park along Marlin Bay Drive and use the trail.

How large is the classroom building?
The classroom is approximately 1,600 square feet.

Do you have a question that wasn’t answered here? If so, please contact Chris Gorri, CBF’s Brock Environmental Center Manager, at [email protected].

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