Sustainable Visitor Center
Compared to an ASHRAE base case building, the facility is 47 percent more efficient.
ASHRAE Base Case
Northwest North Carolina
Sustainable Visitor Center 46,785
Monitored Systems (actual
cooling savings, 17,705 k Wh) 8,021
Photovoltaic ( 4,550 k Wh) 2,061
Solar Water Heating ( 3,514 k Wh) 1,592
Geothermal and Efficiency 29,516
Two LCD screens in the visitor center provide real-time
monitoring of the facility’s
major sustainable systems.
After examining the energy,
water and CO2 savings provided by each system, visitors
can observe the actual sustainable design component
just a short walk away.
design in that snails on this site inhabit an ecosystem where two natural features come together
at the creek edges — water and land. In this way,
the snail’s habitat represents a delicate balance
in nature, one shaped by water and the other
shaped by land.
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
through its canopy-covered walkways and large
windows in the main visitor center hall.
In;designing;the;visitor;center’s;unique;snail-shell spiral geometry, we were inspired by snails
organism seems an apt symbol for sustainability
Sustainable Site Strategies
degree, dictated by the need for safe access and
and trucks. In addition to the main building,
which consists mainly of a visitor center and restrooms, the facility includes several conditioned
outbuildings for storage, maintenance and the
rainwater-harvesting;equipment.;The;orienta-tion of the main building is due south and has
perfect solar access as well as great views to the
foothills of the mountains.
In order to mitigate the impact that storm
water could have on adjacent streams, runoff
from the roadways, parking and other hard surfaces flows through bio-swales to a bio-retention
area with engineered soils and plants designed to
could occur, is directed to a special catchment
Additionally, all rainwater falling on the
lons of rainwater storage. It is later used for toilet
and urinal flushing.
Other sustainable site-design elements
include xeriscape strategies utilizing native
Architecture: Innovative Design,
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing:
Padia Consulting, Cary, N.C.
Soil, Groundwater, Environmental Science, Landscape
Architecture Consultant: Landis, Raleigh, N.C.
Civil Engineering: B & F Consulting,
Structural Engineering: Lysaght & Associates,
Road System, Soil and Water Engineering,
Site Lighting: North Carolina Department of
Commissioning: Elm Engineering,
General Contractor: Vannoy Construction Co.,
The energy strategies
employed in the design
focused primarily on
efficiency, passive heating
and daylighting and
secondarily on geothermal,
solar water heating
solartoday.org SOLAR TODAY May 2011 35
While the entire building energy con-
sumption has not been metered or monitored
separately, the facility does feature a real-time
monitoring system for key renewable energy
components. With the aid of on-site displays
and web links, the system allows visitors to see
how each component is performing and how
the;savings;translate;into;CO2 reduction. (See
sustainable energy- and water-saving systems are
weather station, which is mounted on the roof ➢