(VIRGINIA BEACH)—Today officials will break ground on an innovative sustainable classroom at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Brock Environmental Center for students in a new Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) program. The Macon F. and Joan P. Brock Classroom will educate local students, train teachers, and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.
“The Brock Classroom will be a gamechanger for Virginia Beach students. It will be a world-class sustainable classroom opening on to one of the best outdoor learning experiences in the region—the waters of the Lynnhaven and beaches, dunes, and marshes of Pleasure House Point,” said CBF President William C. Baker. “This trailblazing program by Virginia Beach City Public Schools, supported by yet another generous gift from the Brock family, is just one more example of how the Brock Center is a treasured resource for our community.”
The launch of the new VBCPS Environmental Studies Program builds on a 25-year partnership with CBF. Students will attend classes in a classroom building that will follow the same practices that have made the Brock Center a model for sustainable design and construction. That includes using solar power, capturing and treating rainwater for drinking, and implementing exceptional energy efficiency measures. The classroom’s location will minimize impact to the environment while maximizing natural breezes and daylight to reduce energy needs.
The classroom will also serve as a space for community events, workshops, and trainings with a mission to protect the environment. Construction of the 1,600 square-foot facility will begin in early 2020 and students will attend classes there after Labor Day 2020.
"Future legislators, scientists, engineers, and architects will walk these halls, explore these beautiful grounds, learn in this sustainably-built classroom, and ultimately change the world,” said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “Where better can students experience our city’s and our division’s unique educational opportunities than here at the Brock Center, truly a monument to environmental design and sustainability.”
On the grounds of the Brock Center, students will study alongside CBF staff and local partners. They will design and implement hands-on service-learning projects that could include restoring oysters, maintaining and restoring wildlife habitat, and testing water quality in the nearby Lynnhaven River.
Tymoff+Moss Architects have led design of the building with support from SmithGroup, which worked on the Brock Center. Conrad Brothers, Inc., will be the general contractor for the project. Site design will be performed by WPL, which did the original site design for the Brock Center and the master plan for Pleasure House Point.
A generous donation from Joan Brock to CBF will fund building the classroom. Virginia Beach City Public Schools will cover the cost of anything directly related to educating its students in the new program.
“There's nothing more important than educating the next generation about the environment and sustainability,” said Joan Brock. “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.”