It seems fitting that a building designed to house students of the natural environment should itself be easy on the environment, and Texas A&M University at Galveston appears to agree, as it recently received LEED Gold certification for its Ocean and Coastal Studies Building on Pelican Island.
This 110,000-square-foot-building designed by WHR Architects is the largest marine research facility on the Texas Gulf Coast and is home to the Texas Institute of Oceanography, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, Texas Seafood Safety Laboratory, Laboratory of Oceanographic and Environmental Research, Coastal Zone Laboratory, the university’s marine biology and marine sciences academic departments and the president’s administrative suite.
Green features include sustainable site design, energy and water use efficiency, use of sustainably harvested and local materials and a high indoor environmental quality for its occupants. The project saved 27 percent of the energy that would be consumed by conventional building of similar size, as well as 41 percent less water. In addition, 41 percent of the building’s materials were regionally sourced, 31 percent of them feature recycled content and, during construction, 89 percent of the waste generated was recycled.
“The project truly represents a whole-building integrated team approach, both through design and construction,” said WHR’s Komal Kotwal, sustainable design leader. He noted that several strategies employed simultaneously benefited various aspects of the project, helping the designers to create an ecologically sensitive, healthful and beautiful building environment.