(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—As Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President Will Baker and a host of dignitaries symbolically "unplugged" the building from the power grid, CBF opened the Brock Environmental Center today at Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach.
The festive ceremony capped a multi-year, $21 million capital campaign to build, operate, and endow a new Hampton Roads environmental center, anchored by one of the most environmentally intelligent buildings in the world. With its solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal wells, rain cisterns, waterless toilets, natural landscaping, and elevation 14 feet above sea level, the Brock Environmental Center immediately becomes an international model for energy and water efficiency and climate change resiliency.
"We hoped to raise the bar for energy-efficient, environmentally smart buildings when we envisioned the Brock Environmental Center," Baker said. "And I think we've done that with this remarkable center. But it never would have been possible without the incredible generosity of Joan and Macon Brock and others in the Hampton Roads community who stepped forward to make it happen. This truly has been a partnership effort."
The new center houses CBF's Hampton Roads staff and that of Lynnhaven River NOW, a Virginia Beach conservation group. It also is headquarters for CBF's award-winning environmental education programs providing outdoor learning experiences for Hampton Roads teachers and students. The center features meeting space for community discussions and collaboration as well.
"It is our desire that the center be used to educate and improve the rivers and bays around this region," said Virginia Beach philanthropists Joan and Macon Brock, whose generous support helped make the center possible. "Awareness and speaking with one voice for the Bay and the environment are important to us."
The center's rooftop solar panels and wind turbines are designed to generate all power for the building, and even to return surplus clean, pollution-free energy back to the grid. And the center uses rainwater for all its water needs, including drinking water, becoming what is believed to be the first commercial-scale building in the continental United States to do so.
With its super energy- and water-efficient features, zero polluted runoff, and near-zero impact, the Brock Environmental Center is designed to complement the surrounding environment, not harm or fight it. CBF intends that the center gain the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED platinum designation and to meet the strict standards of the Living Building Challenge.
Completion of the Brock Environmental Center concludes a successful community effort to save the 118-acre Pleasure House Point tract from development. As recently as 2008, developers intended to build more than 1,100 new high-rise condos and townhouses on the property. The collapse of the housing market in 2009, however, led bankers to foreclose on the property. A community partnership with CBF, the City of Virginia Beach, and the Trust for Public Land purchased the land from the bank in 2012, preserving it for open space and environmental education.
Partnering with CBF to create the Brock Environmental Center were SmithGroupJJR, Hourigan Construction, Skanska, and WPL Site Design. To learn more about the center, visit cbf.org/brock.