Research center earns platinum status
Photo courtesy of Houston Advanced Research Center
The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has been awarded LEED platinum certification.
The recognition is the highest environmental building achievement attainable by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), pushing the center a step closer to becoming a Net Zero Energy Building, reports The Daily Telescope.
HARC’s nonprofit mission has long been grounded in the tenants of sustainability, officials said. HARC and its board of directors committed to LEED platinum from the beginning of the design process, said Lisa Gonzalez, HARC president and chief executive officer.
“Our goal was a highly energy- and water-efficient building sited in a manner that conserves habitat, uses native landscaping and incorporates low impact development strategies,” she said. “This building also serves as an example to others in The Woodlands, Montgomery County and throughout the Greater Houston region of how buildings like HARC’s can be designed, constructed and operated sustainably by commercial entities of all sizes.”
The key sustainable elements in HARC’s building that contributed to the LEED platinum rating revolve around energy efficiency, water stewardship and materials reduction.
- Water stewardship: Rainfall runoff from the roof and parking lot of HARC is directed toward vegetated bioswales. The bioswales feature native and water smart plants and run adjacent to the preserved forest habitats. Natural and restored habitats facilitate landscape regeneration. Low-flow water fixtures in the building are calibrated to reduce potable water use.
- Energy efficiency: The new facility features geothermal heat exchange, a high-performance building envelope and rain screen, appropriately sized mechanical and air distribution systems, and daylighting. A share of the building’s electricity needs will be generated from roof mounted solar photovoltaics. Through these strategies, the campus is on track to attain net-zero operational status.
- Materials reduction: Building design seeks to lessen the carbon footprint of the structural systems, as well as minimize layers of finished materials where possible; exposed structure and polished concrete floors are examples of strategies employed. Thirty-one percent of materials used in the building was obtained from the local region. All building finishes were low in volatile organic compound (VOC) content. Building waste was minimized and 88 percent of waste generated during construction was recycled.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the USGBC, is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
HARC was founded in 1982 by George P. Mitchell and works as a nonprofit research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. HARC is focused on building a sustainable future that helps people thrive and nature flourish.
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