LEED Green Power for Shangri La Gardens
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by Matt Kiszka on 05/27/2009
Shangri La Botanical Gardens is one of the AIA’s Top 10 Green Projects of 2009
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded the Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center of Orange, TX, with a place in its Top Ten Green Projects of 2009. The project began back in 2005, and was completed in March of 2008, achieving LEED certification at the Platinum Level, and becoming the first New Construction project to do so in the state of Texas and the Gulf Coast region.
The project achieved LEED Platinum status because of such incorporated features and design decisions as:
- Site restoration and repair of damaged natural systems across the 252-acre footprint of the project;
- The use of solar-powered pumps to circulate and aerate the water in Ruby Lake, reinviograting the natural wetlands of the area and removing contaminants;
- Rooftop rainwater harvesting and water-efficient fixtures, which combined reduce water usage by 77% below baseline design;
- Photovoltaic panels that produce 21% of the building's energy at peak performance, and renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset the rest;
- The salvaging of fallen trees after Hurricane Rita hit the project site in 2005, using them for indoor and outdoor furniture, and framing lumber; and
- 75% of indoor spaces having access to natural daylight, and 90% of spaces having an outdoor view.
According to the AIA's profile on the Shangri la Botanical Gardens & Nature Center, the building and its surrounding lands serve "primarily as an interpretive center for the site's native ecosystems - cypress and tupelo swamp, wooded uplands, and prairie lowlands - as well as a facility for study and research."
The Center is owned an occupied by The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, and was designed by Lake Flato Architects, Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects, and the MESA Design Group.
After being struck by Hurrican Rita back in late-2005, the project team for the Shangri La Botanical Gardens was not deterred; instead they salvaged the felled trees and set themselves to the task of making the most out of their situation. The result is an ecological site that has been restored to its previous natural glory, which now houses a center where people can come and learn about the habitat that is home to many interesting species of plant, animal, and insect that are native to the area. Next time I'm in Texas I know where I'll be going! ~Matt
Matt Kiszka is the Green Building Project Manager for Renewable Choice.