Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Create "Living Building" in Virginia Beach

Conservation Group Seeks Public Input on Center at Pleasure House Point

Press Release
August 23, 2012

Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Create "Living Building" in Virginia Beach

Conservation Group Seeks Public Input on Center at Pleasure House Point

[VIRGINIA BEACH, VA]���The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today announced plans to create an ultra-green environmental education/community center on a small corner of Pleasure House Point, a 100-acre-plus track of dunes, marsh, and trees acquired last month by the City of Virginia Beach for conservation and recreation.

The center, which will be built on a 10-acre parcel that CBF will purchase, will house CBF's Hampton Roads office, potentially that of other local conservation organizations, include space for public meetings, and serve as home base for CBF's award-winning environmental education programs in Hampton Roads.

CBF intends for the new center to meet the "Living Building Challenge��," a set of strict environmental standards established by the International Living Future Institute ( that requires the facility to have "net zero" impact on the surrounding land, water, and air. The building would be the first of its kind in Virginia, among only 18 prospective Living Buildings on the East Coast, and one of only about 150 currently pursuing the Challenge worldwide.

"Our vision quite simply is to create one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the world at Pleasure House Point," said CBF Hampton Roads Director Christy Everett. "We want it to be an international model that demonstrates how to build, work, learn, and play responsibly beside a natural treasure like the Chesapeake Bay. Our goal is a facility the entire Hampton Roads community can be proud of, and we are actively seeking the community's feedback on our Pleasure House Point vision."

CBF intends to use community input to fine-tune its building plans before formally applying to the city next month for a conditional use permit to construct the center. As part of that outreach effort, CBF and the City of Virginia Beach will host a community stakeholders meeting and a separate public open house today in Virginia Beach. CBF will continue to accept comments until August 30 through its website, via e-mail to, or by calling 757/622-1964.

"The entire community partnered to help preserve and protect Pleasure House Point," Everett noted. "CBF now hopes to create an environmental education/community center that sets a new standard���a cutting-edge facility that will engage, inform, and inspire the community to solve the challenges facing the Bay in innovative, sustainable, and collaborative ways."

Jim Spore, Virginia Beach City Manager, said, "We are thrilled that the vision for Pleasure House point is one step closer to reality. The environmental education/community center will not only help educate our citizens about the various habitats and wildlife in this beautiful natural area of Virginia Beach, but it will also contribute to a greater appreciation of what a gem this piece of land is."

To be certified as a Living Building, a project must meet 20 stringent criteria in seven areas���site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty���and do so for at least 12 consecutive months after opening.

"The mission of the International Living Future Institute is to lead the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative," said Jason F. McLennan, chief executive officer of the International Living Future Institute. "The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has embraced this ethic in its vision for its Pleasure House Point project. We applaud the foundation and look forward to working with it in making this Living Building Challenge project a reality."

Also today, CBF formally announced the architect for the Pleasure House Point center, SmithGroupJJR (, one of the largest architecture, engineering, and planning firms in the nation. SmithGroupJJR designed CBF's headquarters building, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Maryland. The Merrill Center was the first building to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's highest Platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2001 and has since won numerous awards for its sustainable design.

"Working with CBF again is extremely gratifying, and we are excited about the opportunity to redefine the possibilities of sustainable design for a new decade," said Greg Mella, SmithGroupJJR design architect and project manager. "We hope the new center will have similar impact as the Merrill Center in transforming communities to embrace environmental stewardship."

CBF today also formally introduced Hourigan Construction ( as the builder of the Pleasure House Point center. With offices in Virginia Beach, Hourigan Construction is an award-winning builder that has done multiple projects in the Hampton Roads area, including LifeNet's engineered science building, several Sentara Healthcare facilities, and the Long Bay Pointe Marina.

"This is a prestigious and much sought-after project, and we are pleased to have been chosen as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's partner," said Mark Hourigan, president of Hourigan Construction. "There are less than a handful of projects like this in the world that have achieved the Living Building Challenge status, and these are primarily on the West Coast of the United States. We are literally breaking ground in multiple ways through this opportunity."

early, conceptual rendering of CBF's new environmental education and community center at Pleasure House Point.An early, conceptual rendering of CBF's new environmental education and community center at Pleasure House Point. (To obtain a high-resolution image, members of the press may contact Andrea Moran at or Chuck Epes at

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