The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center

This project represents the design and construction of a new headquarters and conference facility for a prominent environmental organization. Completed in spring 2007, the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center includes office and meeting spaces, an interpretive exhibit hall, a library and archive, and a three-season classroom. Certified LEED Platinum in fall 2007, the Center received 61 of 61 points submitted, the highest count yet recorded in the USGBC LEED rating system. In April 2008, the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center was named one of America's Top Ten Green Projects by the American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment.

Built to the highest standards of energy efficiency and sustainability, the center is carbon neutral and "zero net" energy in design. It will produce over 110% of annual building energy needs. Solar energy is harvested through a 39 kw photovoltaic system, an active water heating panel, passive heating strategies, and day-lighting.

The Center was envisioned as a small complex of structures organized around a central courtyard. This design provides flexibility in managing energy use based on thermal requirements, creates outdoor spaces for working and gathering, and reduces the scale of the buildings on the site. Built on the location where Aldo Leopold died fighting a brush fire in 1948, the new Leopold Legacy Center also serves as a trailhead for visitors who come from around the world to visit the original Leopold Shack.

One of the major energy efficiency innovations was the use of large underground concrete earth tubes to pre-treat ventilation air and to provide fresh, tempered air in all seasons. Concrete was used instead of other materials because it offered higher thermal transfer and because it minimized potential for mold growth. Stained concrete floors connected to the ground source heat pump to provide radiant heating and cooling, while the higher thermal mass of concrete flooring also reduces temperature fluctuations. The stained concrete floors created a beautiful surface that reduced the need for additional finish materials such as carpeting, resulting in cost savings and more efficient thermal transfer.

Locally sourced waste fly ash helped reduce the percentage of Portland cement (a more energy intensive and higher carbon footprint material) used in construction. The use of board formed concrete construction techniques provided design flexibility and cost efficiencies, while contributing to the overall aesthetic character of the building. A prominent exterior feature is the recycled stone aqueduct, which captures rainwater runoff from the roof and channels it into a rain garden. The aqueduct helps frame the exterior courtyard and connects the building to the earth, both horizontally and vertically.

A major building component includes site-harvested wood originally planted during land restoration efforts by the Leopold family in the 1930's and 1940's. Approximately 90,000 board feet of site-harvested lumber was milled and dried locally for windows, doors, siding, flooring, paneling, furniture and trim. Plaster walls are made of locally harvested sand, clay, and straw.

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