• LaBella Associates

New Department of Environmental Conservation Building Lives Up to its Name

Striving for LEED Platinum, the new Visitor Center epitomizes what the agency stands for.

Comprising 450 acres of fields, forests, and wetland, the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, NY provides guided and self-guided tours for people of all ages. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recently opened a new Visitor Center to replace a 45-year-old building, marking the completion of renovations at the site that began with construction of a new Guided School Program building in 2012. The new buildings and site upgrades are part of the ongoing effort to expand and modernize the facility with sustainably designed and improved educational facilities.

The Visitor Center houses an exhibition hall with educational displays, as well as classrooms and multipurpose spaces for school and public functions. The Guided School Program building supports educational programs that promote awareness and appreciation of New York State’s environment. The buildings also contain offices, meeting rooms, and workspace for the on-site DEC staff.

The new buildings have been constructed with an array of sustainable and energy-efficient features. The roofs of both buildings are covered by a combination of solar photovoltaic arrays and green roof vegetation. Walls and roofs were constructed with highly-insulating structural panels and ultra-high-performance windows and shading systems. Designers were able to obtain 40% of the construction materials locally, and 92% of debris was recycled and avoided landfills.

The buildings’ infrastructure consists of HVAC systems which have been designed to optimize energy efficiency through the use of geothermal heating and cooling, energy recovery ventilation, and occupant-controllable natural ventilation systems. Lighting systems consist of high-efficiency LED fixtures, occupancy and daylight harvesting controls, and automatic scheduling for exhibit hall and site lighting. The solar photovoltaic systems are expected to generate 40% of the facilities’ average annual electricity requirements.

LaBella provided LEED® enhanced commissioning and energy modeling services for the project. In collaboration with Envision Architects and AOW Associates, LaBella has also provided documentation assistance for a range of sustainable design credits. The project is pursuing LEED® Platinum Certification.

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