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Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center




Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado

Point of Contact

Mark Cornyn
(303) 236-5410
mark_cornyn@fws.gov

Summary

The land that is now the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was once occupied by the U.S. Army where chemical weapons were manufactured to support World War II.  Waste handling procedures used at the time polluted the land.  It was placed on the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL).  After a two billion dollar cleanup, the land has been turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 330 species of wildlife inhabit the Arsenal.  The exhibit hall tells the remarkable story of how theExhibit Hall Time Line lands at the Arsenal go full circle: going from native short grass prairie lands with an abundance of wildlife, to a toxic NPL site, through environmental remediation and cleanup, and back to the native short grass prairie land.  This exhibit hall emphasizes the importance of sustainable design and being good stewards of the land.  This visitor center includes features such as detention ponds and sand filtration beds for stormwater management, a high solar reflective index roof, energy efficient exterior lighting, a 56kW PV system, water-efficient landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.

Description

The site that the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (pictured below) is built on is a former Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.  Prior to the cleanup that is in its final stages, there was significant public involvement that helped provide the framework for the Record of Decision that outlined the cleanup projects for the site. Any type of construction at this site was subject to close public scrutiny. As such, the initial design criteria focused on a building that could be a showcase for sustainability and demonstrate good stewardship of the land. Educating the public on past mistakes and encouraging future Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Centergenerations to making the right choices was an important consideration for the design of this building. Green feature signs installed throughout the building highlight building components with sustainable benefits. Performance standards set for the design team included having the building achieve a Leadership in Energy in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The submittal to the USGBC has been sent in for certification at this time, however it is anticipated that it will achieve a Gold rating.

Sustainable site features include:

  • The building site was on land that was previously disturbed.
  • Site plans completely restored the site and maximized open space.
  • Construction of on-site ponds limits storm water runoff.
  • Construction of sand filtration beds eliminates source pollutants from storm water runoff.
  • The heat island effect for the roof has been minimized by the use of a high Solar Reflective Index roof. Reserved parking for fuel efficient vehicles under solar panelsThis also helps to lower the cooling load for the building.
  • Exterior lighting has limited power densities and automatic controls to reduce energy consumption and use. Cutoff type fixtures eliminate light spilling to surrounding areas.
  • Site provides preferred close in parking spaces for alternative fuel vehicles. These spaces are shaded by photovoltaic panels (pictured right) which help educate the public about being green.

Water Efficiency features of the building include:

  • Water efficient landscaping. Plant species selected do not require any irrigation or use of potable water. The building does not have an irrigation system
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures will use 49% less than the baseline case.
  • An aerobic wastewater digester treats 100% of the buildings sewer to tertiary standards.

Energy performance features of building include:

  • Energy use for the building has been calculated to be 30% less than the baseline building performance rating per the ASHRAE Standard 90.1
    Geothermal heating and cooling system under the parking lot
  • Building is heated and cooled with a geothermal heating and cooling system (pictured left).
  • A dedicated outside air unit provides ventilation for all public spaces. Building utilizes a demand controlled ventilation system utilizing CO2 sensors to limit the amount of outside air requiring heating or cooling. The ventilation air that is introduced into the building is preheated or pre-cooled utilizing an energy recovery wheel that extracts energy from building exhaust air.
  • On-site renewable energy is provided by a 56 kW photovoltaic system. To date that system has provided about 40% of the total energy required for the building.

Features to improve indoor air and environmental quality include:

  • Adhesives, sealants, paints, and carpet systems utilized products with low emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Other design features to improve indoor environmental qualities was the use of daylighting. All offices, lobby and classrooms have direct access to daylight. Two level light switching and occupancy sensors help to eliminate unnecessary lighting.

Results and Achievements

  • On-site renewable energy is provided by a 56 kW photovoltaic system. To date that system has provided about 40% of the total energy required for the building.
  • Energy use for the building has been calculated to be 30% less than the baseline building performance rating per the ASHRAE Standard 90.1.
  • Water efficient landscaping. Plant species selected do not require any irrigation or use of potable water. The building does not have an irrigation system.
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures will use 49% less than the baseline case. 
  • An aerobic wastewater digester treats 100% of the buildings sewer to tertiary standards. 
  • A dedicated outside air unit provides ventilation for all public spaces. Building utilizes a demand controlled ventilation system utilizing CO2 sensors to limit the amount of outside air requiring heating or cooling. The ventilation air that is introduced into the building is preheated or pre-cooled utilizing an energy recovery wheel that extracts energy from building exhaust air.

Building features include:

  • Upon entering the lobby, visitors are greeted with soaring wooden-beamed ceilings leading to a large expanse of glass that offers spectacular views of the native shortgrass prairie.
    Exhibit Hall Prairie




  • All new interactive exhibitory will take visitors on a journey from past to present, complete with soundscapes, mounted wildlife, and cultural artifacts.




  • A colorful discovery room full of wildlife activities and exploration will give youngsters a whole new perspective on learning nature.

Other sustainable features of the building include:

  • Building materials consist of recycled content. Products using recycled content include structural steel and framing, metal roofing, concrete, ceramic tile, and acoustic ceiling systems, and storefront framing.
  • Beetle-killed lodgepole pine was salvaged from local Colorado forests and used for the wood ceiling in the lobby. Information desks and trim throughout the building also used this wood. 
  • The adjacent Stapleton International Airport closed and recycled asphalt from the demolished runways was used for road base. This processed material was less than one mile away from where it was reused.
  • Cork flooring, a rapidly renewable material, was utilized in the flooring of the bookstore and exhibit hall.
  • The building site was on land that was previously disturbed.
  • Site plans completely restored the site and maximized open space. 
  • Construction of on-site ponds limits storm water runoff. Construction of sand filtration beds eliminates source pollutants from storm water runoff. 
  • The heat island effect for the roof has been minimized by the use of a high Solar Reflective Index roof. This also helps to lower the cooling load for the building.
  • Exterior lighting has limited power densities and automatic controls to reduce energy consumption and use. Cutoff type fixtures eliminate light spilling to surrounding areas.
  • Site provides preferred close in parking spaces for alternative fuel vehicles. These spaces are shaded by photovoltaic panels which help educate the public about being green.