Brock Environmental Center

  • by Richard Cutler
  • /
  • 2017-05-17 07:53:45
  • /
  • International
  • /
  • 10794 / EN

New Construction

  • Building Type : Office building < 28m
  • Construction Year : 2012
  • Delivery year : 2014
  • Address 1 - street : 23455 VIRGINIA BEACH, USA
  • Climate zone : [Cfa] Humid Subtropical - Mild with no dry season, hot summer.

  • Net Floor Area : 975 m2
  • Construction/refurbishment cost : 7 130 000 €
  • Cost/m2 : 7312.82 €/m2

Proposed by :

Certifications :

  • Primary energy need :
    44.6 kWhpe/m2.year
    (Calculation method : Other )
Energy consumption
Economical buildingBuilding
< 50A
51 à 90B
91 à 150C
151 à 230D
231 à 330E
331 à 450F
> 450G
Energy-intensive building

The Brock Environmental Center is certified to the Living Building Challenge (LBC) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. The center is designed to be energy positive and zero water, and resilient to the future risks associated with climate change. The center was completed at the end of 2014, but it became one of the world's few buildings certified to the LBC in 2016, after demonstrating its green credentials over a full year.

The Brock Environmental Center on Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, Virginia, serves as a hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). The CBF works to defend one of the nation’s most valuable and threatened natural resources, the Chesapeake Bay, by supporting various education, outreach, advocacy and restoration initiatives. The CBF has occupied the building since the end of 2014.

Skanska was involved in the project from the outset to manage the project on behalf of the client and ensure the LBC and LEED objectives were achieved within budget. The building was designed by SmithGroupJJR and constructed by Hourigan Construction. The center includes office space, meeting rooms, exhibit display areas, an 80-seat conference room, a floating dock and an open-air education pavilion. The building is designed to blend in with the natural surroundings.

The Brock Environmental Center was one of the ten first buildings in the world to be fully certified to all seven petals of the very demanding Living Building Challenge (LBC), and also achieved LEED Platinum. The LBC is a demanding sustainable building certification program that consists of 20 imperatives, which must all be fulfilled following 12 months of operation in order to be certified. LEED is a voluntary U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) certification process intended to encourage and guide the construction of green buildings. Skanska drew on its unique LBC and LEED experience in the USA, and worked closely with the other project partners to fulfil the ambitions of the demanding project. Pre-construction and planning took one year to identify innovative materials and state-of-the-art technologies that could be used to meet the project’s demands.

See more details about this project

Data reliability



    Other consultancy agency


    Curtis Elswick, Senior Vice President Regional Executive at Skanska USA Building, Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Project Management on behalf of the client



    Greg Mella

    Architect & Engineer


    Hourigan Construction

    Chris Brandt


    Other consultancy agency

    Janet Harrison Architect

    Janet Harrison

    Green Building Consultant

Contracting method

General Contractor

Owner approach of sustainability

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Chesapeake Bay. CBF serves as a watchdog, fighting for effective, science-based solutions to the pollution degrading the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. The CBF motto, "Save the Bay," is a regional rallying cry for pollution reduction throughout the Chesapeake's six-state, 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to more than 17 million people and 3,000 species of plants and animals.

The owner wanted to push the boundaries of what is currently possible in terms of green building to develop one of the greenest buildings in the world that would serve as an educational resource to visitors of the Brock Environmental Center. This involved meeting the very challenging criteria of the Living Building Challenge - to be energy positive, self-sufficient in water use (by being the first building in the USA that legally purifies rainwater for human consumption, low environmental impact materials, etc. At the same time the center had to provide very healthy indoor environments for building occupants and be resistent to the future affects of climate change - such as storm resilience and designed with raising sea levels in mind.

Architectural description

To forge a shared vision for the 118-acre site, the last large undeveloped parcel at Pleasure House Point, monthly stakeholder meetings drew important input from community partners and the City of Virginia Beach. Housing offices for CBF and partner groups, the center also features an 80-seat conference room, meeting rooms, and exhibit display areas. Site development, focused on preservation of the local ecology, includes a boat pier with floating dock, a 250-foot kayak pier, and an open-air education pavilion.

Building users opinion

“At the Brock Center, we set out to show that a building can have remarkable benefits for both the environment and the community. Now it’s a proven concept. All of us have the choice to be sustainable in how we build.”
- Will Baker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President

Energy consumption

  • 44,60 kWhpe/m2.year
  • 713,00 kWhpe/m2.year
  • Other

  • 44,60 kWhfe/m2.year
  • The consumption figure includes the building's total electricity use (including occupant loads):
    Heating - 16,915 kWh
    Cooling - 0 kWh (passive cooling system)
    Fans & pumps - 10,423 kWh
    Lighting - 2,716 kWh
    Plus loads & occupants equipment - 8,763 kWh
    Other (including domestic hot water) - 5,787 kWh

    The center generated 183% of its total energy needs in its first year of operation through energy efficiency, a 45 kW solar PV system, two 10kW wind turbines, and a geothermal heating/cooling system.

Envelope performance

  • 0,10 W.m-2.K-1
  • The building envelope is designed to optimize energy efficiency with walls, roof and triple glazed windows with U-values of 0.03 W/m2K, 0.02 W/m2K and 0.14 W/m2K respectively.

Real final energy consumption

    2 015


    • Geothermal heat pump
    • Heat pump
    • Geothermal heat pump
    • Natural ventilation
    • Nocturnal ventilation
    • Double flow heat exchanger
    • Solar photovoltaic
    • Heat pump (geothermal)
    • Micro wind
  • 100,00 %
  • PV solar system - 45 kW
    Two 10 kW wind turbines

    Natural ventilation and nighttime cooling

GHG emissions

  • The building produces a surplus of approximately 35,000 kWh per year.

Water management

  • 70,70 m3
  • The building is net-zero water, and was the first public building in the USA to be legally allowed to use purified rainwater for human consumption, which required the facility to be certified as a water treatment plant. The state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting and filtration system consists of two 1,600 gallon (6,000 liter) rain cisterns and can supply the building through six weeks of drought. The building uses 90% less water than a typical office building of its size, and is equipped with waterless composting toilets, and water efficient bathroom fittings.

    The wastewater from sinks and showers is collected and channeled to an infiltration garden that consists of native plants where natural processes clean and return it to the underground aquifer. Liquid from the seven composting toilets is collected free of charge by the City of Virginia Beach who process it into agricultural fertilizer, which they sell.

Indoor Air quality

    The building has been designed to use fresh air ventilation when outdoor conditions allow, and non-hazardous and low VOC substances have been used to promote good indoor air quality.

Health & Comfort

    Extensive glazing allows natural light into the narrow building and allow external views of the surrounding natural coastal environment.

    less than 1 ppm


    Climate change resilience

    Skanska and project partners


    The center is situated by the coast to support the client’s education program, and is designed to be resilient to the future risks associated with climate change. The building is set back 200 ft (60m) from the shore and sits 14 ft (4 m) above the sea level to protect against sea-level rise. The structure and windows are also designed to resist hurricane force winds.

    The building is also equipped with zinc shingles and thick, galvanized-coated steel resistant to corrosion from salt spray.

    One of CBF's objectives is climate resilience. This climate adaption to climate change is complementary to the Brock Environmental Center's approach to climate mitigation - for example through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Construction and exploitation costs

  • 400 000,00
  • 9 900 000

Urban environment

The Brock Environmental Center is in a rural location adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, which the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is tasked to protect and educate visitors about.

Land plot area

40 460,00 m2

Built-up area

5,00 %

Green space


Parking spaces

Vehicular access has been purposefully limited to encourage walking and cycling. There are three ADA parking spaces and delivery access.

Building Environmental Quality

  • indoor air quality and health
  • comfort (visual, olfactive, thermal)
  • waste management (related to activity)
  • water management
  • energy efficiency
  • renewable energies
  • integration in the land
  • mobility
  • products and materials

A pioneering energy positive, net-zero water and Living Building Challenge building

The Brock Environmental Center was one of the ten first buildings in the world to be fully certified to all seven petals of the very demanding Living Building Challenge (LBC), and is certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. The center generates almost double its annual energy demand and uses rainwater to meet all its water needs. Materials were carefully selected to meet the LBC requirements, and the building is designed to promote healthy indoor environments. The center is also designed to be resilient to the future risks associated with climate change.

Contest categories

Energy & Temperate Climates

Energy & Temperate Climates

Low Carbon

Low Carbon

Health & Comfort

Health & Comfort

Users' Choice

Users' Choice

Green Solutions Awards 2017 - Buildings

 Green Solutions Awards Winner
 Health & Comfort Prize

Author of the page

  • Richard Cutler

    Green Advisor

  • Other case studies



    Green Solutions Awards 2017 - Buildings