The US Green Building Council (USGBC http://usgbc.org) was formed in 1993 and in 2000 established LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes green buildings constructed using state of the art design strategies, materials and components.
Certified buildings represent LEED’s purpose of promoting projects that strive for limiting resource use, attempting to maximize clean energy usage, and have a positive health impact on its occupants.
To obtain LEED certification, a project must first satisfy certain prerequisites and then earn points by verifying materials and systems meet or exceed thresholds established by industry standards for different category levels of certification.
The point levels of certification for LEED:
GOLD: 60-79, (CSI achieved 64 points)
As a constituent entity of the UNC System, UNC-CSI has the opportunity to demonstrate new building technologies and to lead by example the ideals of coastal sustainability. In order to promote this ideal, the CSI Board of Directors chose to pursue a LEED certification because of its status as the most widely recognized green certification program in the country.
The certification process was completed in three steps: design, construction and commissioning. During each step, points were awarded in different categories of LEED’s sustainable building criteria. For each sustainable practice achieved, a point was awarded. The final tally of points would determine the level of certification.
Before beginning the construction process, the building plans for the UNC-CSI campus were designed considering guidelines set forth by the LEED program. Once completed, final design documents were sent for approval with an initial certification payment. Construction began in 2010.
A series of documents for each sustainable aspect achieved were sent to LEED during the construction process to ensure proper procedures were being followed.
After the campus was completed, experts tested the building during occupancy to ensure the sustainable practices set forth in the construction plan were in operation.
The UNC-CSI campus was completed in 2012 and after being awarded 64 points, received its LEED gold certification in 2014.
To see the points received during certification, look at Green features LEED signage.
Prior to state ownership, the CSI campus site was the location of dredge material deposition from a dredge operation that removed material from nearby Shallowbag Bay. The historic elevations of 3 to 5 feet above sea level were raised up to elevations of 8 to 10 feet in some locations. This recent development activity left the site fairly devoid of vegetation as dredge materials in coastal bays tend toward higher salinity and low nutrient value.
In the years following the dredge material addition, marsh grasses were beginning to succeed in lower elevations at the site. Upland grasses, beach pea, loblolly pine, cedar and wax myrtle were showing up on the higher and dryer elevations. Prior to construction, CSI staff and volunteers executed a plant rescue activity to relocate hundreds of plants that would have been destroyed within the construction footprint.
Site stabilization was achieved post-construction by the use of special seed mixes that had been created for the site. Using a hydro-seeding process, the native grass and flower mixture that was created for the site on Roanoke Island was sprayed on all disturbed areas and along the roadway swales. Three seed mixes were created: upland, mid-slope and lower elevation seed mixes.
Ten stormwater best management practices (BMPs) were created on the site to collect runoff from the Marine Operations Building as well as roads and parking areas. The collection of bioretention ponds, created wetlands, level spreaders, swales and polishing fields treat 100% of the stormwater that falls on the CSI Campus. Each of the stormwater BMPs is planted with native vegetation and provides beauty for visitors as well as important habitat for coastal and migrating species.
Landscape vision for the CSI Campus is to introduce additional native species to encourage the development of plant communities native to the region. The campus is a place for learning for visitors of all ages and the landscape is destined to become a big part of that learning experience.
For more information, check out the video below.