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Nature Research Center a 'perfect example' of green design

Posted August 3, 2012

— The new Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, which is on track to have more than 1 million visitors in 2012, has quickly become a hit for those looking to take an educational trip in downtown Raleigh.

And while the exhibits are what generate the most excitement, the behind-the-scenes features – all the way down to the materials that were used to build the wing – are what make the building a perfect example of green construction.

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The rooftop terrace is a prime example, serving as both a nice place to take a break and a hub for many of the Nature Research Center's environmentally friendly design features.

Exhibit director Roy Campbell says rainwater flows from the terrace garden into a giant cistern in the back of the building. 

"That water is lightly treated and then used to flush our toilet systems," Campbell said. 

Panels on the roof pre-heat water while others generate electricity, and the glass atrium allows natural light through the building. The panels, which move with the sun during the day, offer the perfect amount of heat and light, Campbell said. 

The building materials used to build the 80,000-square foot addition were locally sourced as well. 

Designers recycled magnolia trees from the building site to use as decorative trim throughout the building. Although the decision to go green isn't cheap, Campbell said the features will save lots of energy and money long term. 

"There's an upfront cost building a green building, but it measures on the life of a building," he said. "There's a great savings to the taxpayer."

Campbell also said the Nature Research Center can serve as a model for other state buildings in the future thanks to the state's natural resources and its people.

"There is a great, bright future for North Carolina," he said. "That's really what we're trying to do here." 

On Friday, the museum will stay open until 9 p.m. as part of downtown Raleigh's First Friday celebration.

6 Comments

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  • piene2 Aug 6, 8:59 a.m.

    I do not think I will be building any more houses but if I ever do, I will go as green as possible. It does cost a bit more initially but repays over time and there is great satisfaction in knowing one is doing everything they can to protect the environment.

  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 3, 7:14 p.m.

    Fun, some of the features make good sense. Daylighting is generally economical, as well as solar water heating. I agree that solar panels are not economical. If you look at the total cost savings of the energy made over their 20 year life and compare to the total cost of panels (remember no direct tax breaks for gov't), the cost of the panels is higher - meaning they never pay for themselves based on power produced. The locally sourced materials at least mean local jobs. Some of this stuff makes sense, but a lot of it (i.e., LEED) is simple green-washing.

  • Hammerhead Aug 3, 4:54 p.m.

    Fun, this has nothing to do with global warming.

  • mmtlash Aug 3, 4:27 p.m.

    This is a great asset for the community! The kids love it too!

  • geosol Aug 3, 4:07 p.m.

    I've been in this building and i think its very impressive! Well designed and comfortable. I'm looking into incorporating some of the same features in my new home. Costs more up-front, but it pays off in reduced utility bills. Plus, its just more comfortable overall.

  • Fun Aug 3, 2:07 p.m.

    Show me the numbers ! Green is the new red = Communism
    Show me what global warming effect of man without Volcanos !
    Show me the pollution created by a Volcanos compared to man's contribution.