The Twin Creeks Science and Education Center at Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received certification at the Gold Level under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, “As stewards of America’s most prominent and pristine natural and cultural resources, the National Park Service strives to set the best possible example of developing its facilities in such a manner as to make them as energy efficient and sustainable as we possibly can. In addition, we design structures that minimally disrupt and are visually harmonious with the settings in which they are placed.”
The LEED certification process evaluates structures based upon five environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Additional credit is given for Design Innovations.
In the case of the Twin Creeks Science Center, the Park included a wide range of practices and materials including: minimizing the clearing of the surrounding forest, utilizing many of the boulders uncovered as landscape materials, chipping all the tree cut during construction for use as landscape mulch and constructing wetland pools to filter and clean roof-top and parking area water run-off. It incorporates low-flow sinks and shower fixtures as well as waterless urinals.