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The Virginian Pilot shows photos and video about the progress and sustainability of the Brock Environmental Center.

Sneak peek previews new Pleasure House Point center

By Kathy Adams
The Virginian-Pilot
© 

VIRGINIA BEACH

With construction more than halfway done, officials offered a sneak peek Friday of the environmental education center taking shape at Pleasure House Point.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation broke ground in August on the roughly $5 million Brock Environmental Center, a curved, one-story building that will offer a pavilion for field trips, rooms for education and offices for the environmental nonprofit and its compatriot, Lynnhaven River Now.

Steel and wood framing outlines the rooms and conference spaces of the 10,000-square-foot building. Holes mark where windows and movable walls will let the breeze in on beautiful spring days. Large tanks wait to turn human waste into compost. And a large wavelike curve covers the west end of the building, its galvanized steel roof glinting in the sun.

But there’s still lots of work to be done.

Slabs of wood instead of porcelain toilets sit atop the composting tanks. Cypress planks dredged from rivers sit under a blue tarp, waiting to be stained before they cover the sides of the building. Wooden stakes with neon pink tips mark the spots on each end of the center where two 80-foot wind turbines will eventually go.

Work is slated to be finished by November, and an open house is planned that month, said Christy Everett, Hampton Roads director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Some residents questioned the need to build anything on the environmentally sensitive site, which is located between Shore Drive and the Lynnhaven River west of the Lesner Bridge. But Everett said the environmental center was always a part of the preservation plan.

It is expected to be the greenest building in Virginia and will be the only major structure on the 118-acre property, which was once slated for a residential development. When the project flopped, a group that included the foundation, the city and private donors stepped in to preserve Pleasure House Point, closing on the $13 million deal in 2012.

Shortly after, the scenic spot opened to the public.

Donations are funding construction, as well as an endowment for the center, Everett said.

The foundation is vying for a “living building” certification, which so far only five buildings in the world have achieved, she said.

“One of the goals of the building is to bring nature in,” Everett said over clanging hammers and buzzing saws at the construction site.

The Brock Environmental Center, named for financial backers Joan and Macon Brock, will take up about a half-acre of the preserve and sit 200 feet from the shore. Parking will be off-site.

The goal will be for the building to generate or gather all of the electricity and water it needs and to prevent stormwater runoff from polluting the waterway.

Construction, too, is taking the environment into account, with solar panels providing electricity for power tools and large computer screens instead of paper displaying blueprints.

To learn more about the Brock Environmental Center or to make a donation, visit www.cbf.org. The website includes access to a live camera feed where viewers can watch construction of the center.

View the original article here.

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