Mote Marine Laboratory’s new coral reef research facility on Summerland Key has become the first U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold Commercial certified building in Monroe County, Mote officials say.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s “a rating system ... to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation toward sustainable design... LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.”
Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration at mile marker 24 opened in May and replaced older buildings. The LEED certification came in mid-November.
“We planned for this facility to embody our ocean-friendly, planet-friendly mission — that was our vision from day one,” Mote president and Chief Executive Michael P. Crosby said. “Now, as scientists and students from around the globe collaborate at this cutting-edge base of operations, they can take pride not only in what we achieve together, but also how we achieve it — with great care for minimizing our environmental footprint.”
At Summerland, Mote scientists raise and study more than 20 species of hard corals and maintain a facility to produce thousands of coral fragments for reef restoration and for studies of coral resilience amid the warmer, more acidic oceans expected in Earth’s future.
With Mote’s specifications in mind, Willis A. Smith Construction Inc., built the Moore center to include 30.1 kilowatt solar panels, a rainwater capture system, significant proportions of recycled and local building materials, and other eco-friendly features. The facility has eight residential suites, five offices, two wet labs and one prep lab on the second floor; three dry labs, one prep lab and one ocean acidification lab on the third floor; two electric-car charging stations; two indoor classrooms; and one outdoor classroom.
“Willis Smith Construction’s goal was always to strive for USGBC LEED Gold certification for Mote’s new coral research facility,” said John LaCivita, vice president at Willis Smith Construction. “With that in mind, even before we started putting ink to paper, we reviewed every line item on the LEED checklist and determined what would be possible in the Keys. Keeping those specific target items in mind, we then began the design collaboration.”
Two Trails Inc. Sustainable Building Consulting assessed the Moore center for LEED Commercial certification. They documented these key features:
▪ Improvement of 37.9 percent energy efficiency from baseline, calculated using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ 90.1-2009 code. This model assessed the improved energy efficiency of Mote’s facility versus a comparable facility without the same energy-efficient LEED features and solar power.
▪ 17.6 percent of total energy consumed at the facility is generated on site from the rooftop solar photovoltaic installation.
▪ Water use is reduced 46.11 percent from baseline.
▪ Captured rainwater is collected in a 1,050-gallon cistern, reducing potable water use for sewage conveyance by 166 percent.
▪ 100 percent of landscaping consists of plants native to the Florida Keys and is xeriscaped with no irrigation required after establishment.
▪ Sunlight (including unwanted heat) is reflected by 99 percent of compliant non-roof surfaces and 100 percent of compliant roof surfaces. The goal is to reduce the “heat island” effect of development on microclimates and human and wildlife habitats.
▪ 80.74 percent of the facility’s construction waste was recycled or re-used, diverting it from landfill.
▪ 22.36 percent of the total building materials’ content was manufactured using recycled materials.
▪ 53.08 percent of the total building materials’ value includes materials and products manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site.