Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sustainable Northwest North Carolina Visitors Center & Rest Area

North Carolina's first sustainable rest area opened Thursday on Highway 421 near North Wilkesboro. Built by Innovative Design, a sustainable architecture firm out of Raleigh, the building is aiming for LEED Gold certification.

Sustainable design elements include:
  • Small building footprint surrounded by open space
  • Stormwater management through bio-retention basin, hazardous spill basins and bio-swales
  • Xeriscape landscape (no irrigation needed)
  • Light pollution reduction
  • 0.8 mile green trail
  • 4.5 acres of reforestation
  • Preferred Parking for low emitting and fuel efficient vehicles and van pools
  • Reduced parking capacity to appropriate amounts
  • Reclaimed site vegetation for landscape mulch and site furniture
  • Photovoltaic system
  • Domestic solar water heating for restroom sinks
  • Increased daylighting
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Diverted 90% of construction waste from landfill
  • Building shell is constructed of an Energy star rated membrane
[Information courtesy of the NCDOT]

The building's green monitoring system is available online. The system updates the information every 15 minutes.

The new building is impressive and well received. Today over 350 visitors took advantage of the facilities before noon, including around 100 during the hour I spent on site. The design utilizes many strategies proposed in my thesis prototypes which are exciting to see implemented. Hopefully this will be the first of many sustainable rest areas in North Carolina. This is a wonderful precedent study for my thesis as well as a fun day trip to visit the site.

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