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SmithGroupJJR’s Brock Environmental Center converts rain into drinkable water

The education building generated 83% more energy than it consumed over the last year en route to earning Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification.

June 09, 2016 |

Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va. Photo: Prakash Patel, courtesy SmithGroupJJR

This week, the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va., earned Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute. The certification means the building produced more energy than it used for 12 consecutive months while meeting other sustainable criteria.

One feature that defines the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s education building for the is rainwater filtration system that makes the rain drinkable. According to the building’s architect, SmithGroupJJR, the Brock Center is the first commercial building in the continental U.S. to be permitted to treat, to federal standards, harvested rainwater for potable uses. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in tanks below an elevated first floor. A filtration system renders the water suitable for drinking and hand washing. 

The Brock Center also has waterless, composting toilets, and grey water from sinks and showers is filtered for use in an attached garden of native plants. Water is then naturally cleaned and returned to an underground aquifier.

SmithGroupJJR says the Brock Center generated 83% more energy than it used over the past year. Two 70-foot 10-kilowatt wind turbines and 168 solar panels were used to generate all of the building’s energy. 

The 10,500-sf building also has sustainable features like natural daylighting and sunshading, natural ventilation, and geo-thermal heating and cooling.

The Brock Center was completed in November 2014 for $8 million.


(Click photos to enlarge. Photos: Prakash Patel, courtesy SmithGroupJJR.)

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