Like many other buildings that receive the coveted Platinum-level LEED certification, the Sweetwater Creek State Park Visitors Center, near Lithia Springs, Georgia, features numerous energy conservation measures and has a roof full of photovoltaic cells to generate electricity.
Perhaps more unusual, however, is the extent to which this new building saves water. Various strategies combine to reduce potable water consumption by about 77 percent of that of a conventional building. Rainwater harvesting, low-flow fixtures, and on-site wastewater treatment combine to put the building nearly "off the grid" for water and sewage needs.
The 8,700-square-foot (810-square-meter) building, designed by the Atlanta-based architecture firm Gerding Collaborative, includes a large exhibit space, offices, retail area, learning laboratory, classrooms, and restrooms.
The owner, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, wanted the building to help achieve their mission of protecting and preserving natural resources. Indeed, the visitor center, which opened to the public in 2006, serves as a full-scale demonstration model for designing, constructing, and operating a green building.
The various water collection, use, and treatment systems are all integrated with the design and operation of the building. For instance, large portions of the building's roof collect rainwater that is filtered and treated before being used inside the building. Thirty-eight percent of the building's total roof area, or 4000 square feet (370 square meters), is used for rainwater collection.
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Sweetwater Creek State Park Museum and Visitors Center, designed by the Gerding Collaborative, received a LEED-Platinum rating.
Photo: Gerding Collaborative, LLC
Site planning for energy and water conservation.
Image: Gerding Collaborative, LLC
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