The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) is the 9,000-square-foot interpretive center located in Newport Beach, Orange County, California. It is considered as the first LEED Platinum Building in the area designed by LPA Inc. The design of this building is aligned with the non-profit’s mission to give environmental education through hands-on experience.
The nonprofit that is managing the Environmental Nature Center wanted a new home where they are allowed to enhance community appreciation and knowledge of nature. With that in mind, this new building was built and exists to educate and inspire visitors by introducing green strategies based on sustainable practice, environmental education, and ecological responsibility.
The first thing the designing team did in the project was to site the building in a north-south orientation to control solar heat gain glare. In addition, LPA’s engineers created the space for natural ventilation in hopes to reduce HVAC costs. Ocean breezes through the low intake windows on the south where excess hot air rises up the sloped ceiling and exhales out through high operable windows on the north. There’s a steep-pitched roof to accommodate a large photovoltaic (PV) array set at a maximum angle for southern sun exposure.
Moreover, the PV panels provide 100% of the ENC’s power. Other sustainable features included are dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and low-flow fixtures intended to reduce portable water as much as 15,000 gallons per year. The design team provided native, drought-tolerant plants to remove the need for irrigation. There’s also bioswales and rainwater harvesting techniques to capture the stormwater runoff.
The building design also improves the ENC’s visibility through a 25-foot-high window that provides the look of the building’s interior through the outdoor. Glulam beams are showed off through an exposed wood structure. The beams are intended to support a monumental roof plane.