First LEED Platinum in Tarrant County Goes to Botanical Research Center

July 13, 2011 / William Thomson, Green Homes Expert

A botanical research center in Tarrant County, Texas was the first to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Rating from the US Green Building Council, which gave 52 points to the construction.

First LEED Platinum in Tarrant County Goes to Botanical Research Center

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) has announced that its new headquarters has been awarded the LEED platinum status for meeting the green standards in sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, materials and resources, indoor air quality, and innovation and design process.

Under the LEED rating system for new construction, the USGBC requires a minimum score of 52 or higher to achieve its platinum rating. The award makes the research center the first in Tarrant County to achieve the Platinum rating, second in North Texas, and eighth in the state of Texas.

The 70,000-square-foot, two-story building is situated on 5.2 acres, with an estimated energy savings of approximately $37,000 per year, which is 50 percent higher than energy code recommendations.

The considerable energy savings can be attributed to BRIT’s 52-kilowatt photovoltaic system mounted on the roof of BRIT’s Archive Block, which supplies approximately 14 percent of the buildings annual energy needs.

The research center uses captured rainwater from the roof and hardscape and reduces potable water usage for irrigation by 95 percent. The building has also saved 51 percent of water consumption through its low-flow fixtures and other water conservation measures in the research center.

“Everything about our building is focused on conservation and reusing natural resources,” said Dr. S.H. Sohmer, BRIT’s president and director.

“The building was designed and built based on BRIT’s mission and core principles of conservation, sustainability, and wise stewardship of the land.”

“We are thrilled to receive the news of the Platinum certification,” Sohmer added.

“It is my belief that building owners and developers throughout the U.S. and around the world can play a major role in reducing environmental stress by employing some or all of the sustainable features found in our building.”

H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, LLC and Corgan Associates, Inc. designed the research center while Balmori Associates, Inc. designed the landscape.

The Green Team, Inc. served as consultant while Beck Group completed the construction.

Green features of the research center include rain gardens for water runoff, low emissions vehicle parking, restoration of the Fort Worth Prairie habitat as a viable ecosystem, living roof, and LED site lighting; a number of innovative water-saving and water-reusing features including a rainwater pond, two cisterns, using indigenous plants, and low-flow fixtures; geothermal wells around the building and incorporating a rooftop-mounted photovoltaic system; wood from sustainably managed forests like FSC labeled ash (a hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as responsibly harvested and sinker cypress wood that comes from cypress logs that sank in the Mississippi River over 100 years ago).

BRIT also used bamboo ceiling panels, linen and paper wall coverings, and wool carpet, which are renewable materials.

The research center has also incorporated windows and glazing that allow natural sunlight to enter in more than 75 percent of the building.

The building includes green education program, potable water savings, habitat restoration, and construction waste management.

Founded in 1987, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) is an international, scientific research and learning center focused on conservation and knowledge sharing.

Based in Fort Worth, BRIT documents the diversity of plant life and conducts extensive research around the world. Current major projects are in Texas, Europe, Peru, and Papua New Guinea.

In the last ten years, scientists at the research center have located and described scores of species previously unknown to science.

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