Less than two years after it opened, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center has attained a distinction among environmentally friendly buildings that only 10 other projects in the country have achieved.
The 10,500-square-foot center on Pleasure House Point at Lynnhaven Inlet announced this week it has been certified as a “living building” by the International Living Future Institute. To earn the title, it produced more energy than it used for 12 straight months and met several other criteria, including water use, location, materials and beauty, according to a release.
The Living Future Institute now lists the Brock Center as one of 11 buildings in the country that have passed its Living Building Challenge. Certification involved a yearlong evaluation. The center has solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal wells, rain cisterns, waterless toilets and natural landscaping. It is the first commercial building in the continental U.S. that is permitted to capture and treat rainfall for drinking water, according to the release.
“At the Brock Center, we set out to show that a building can have remarkable benefits for both the environment and the community. Now it’s a proven concept,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker said in the release. “All of us have the choice to be sustainable in how we build.”
The center houses the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Roads staff and the local nonprofit Lynnhaven River NOW, and offers space for community discussions and collaboration. It also serves as a teaching tool for sustainability and has received more than 30,000 visitors since it opened in November 2014, according to the release.
According to the center, the building uses 90 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than a typical office building of its size by way of conservation efforts and technology. It incurs the minimum fee to tie into the electrical grid, with hook-up fees of about $17 a month, the release said.
In the past year, the center has produced about 83 percent more energy than it has used, it said.