CREC Green Features

Below are a number of features in and out of the CREC that allowed the building to get LEED Gold certified. For more information about other types of green initiatives and green tips, please visit our green room page.
To see these features in an interactive webpage and learn more about the LEED certification and how some of the energy saving machines in the CREC work, visit our touchscreen we have onsite as well as online here.
25 Design Features of the CREC
1. Let's Bike!
The CREC provides convenient and secure bicycle racks near the building's entrance in addition to showers and changing facilities on the ground floor for the convenience of the bikers. Providing such amenities for the facility is an important component of the design as we aim to encourage people to bike more - thus reducing pollution and the land development impacts from automobile use.
2. Limited (but Preferred!) Parking
The CREC provides the exact number of parking spaces required to meet the minimum local zoning requirements, and intentionally does not exceed it. In addition, 5% of the parking spaces are specifically designated for carpools and an additional 5% is reserved for fuel efficient/low-emitting vehicles. The intent of these measures is to reduce pollution and the land development impacts from automobile use and to encourage the consideration of alternatives to single occupancy vehicles.
3. Improving Stormwater Runoff
The inclusion of bioswales and stormwater basins in the CREC's design improves both the quality as well as the quantity of stormwater runoff. Rather than having the water run directly from the building's parking lot and hardscape surfaces into the sewer infrastructure, these landscape features collect and slowly filter it before returning it to the earth. This strategy helps control potential floods and prevents pollutants from reaching the Darby Creek watershed.
4. What a Cool Roof!
By installing a white roof on the CREC, the building efficiently reflects solar heat - thereby reducing the roof temperature and transferring less heat into the building. Further, with a smaller temperature difference between the CREC and the surrounding area, the building does not generate excessive amounts of heat that may disturb the ecosystem in the Reserve. This cool roof also reduces energy consumption by lowering the air conditioning demand.
5. Water Efficient Landscaping
The landscape architects have designed a very water efficient landscape by carefully selecting native plants that are well suited to the Reserve's average rainfall, soil and climate. This selection of plants has eliminated the need for a permanent irrigation system and the use of potable water, which therefore greatly reduces demand on municipal water. Another benefit of the native plants is the creation of natural habitats for birds, small amphibians, butterflies and other insects.
6. Recycling for Another Day!
A recycling program was implemented on the construction site with a goal of diverting at least 75% of the project's construction debris from landfills and incineration facilities. The recycling effort involved separating the waste, identifying its recyclable contents and transporting it to recycling centers. Throughout the construction process, 88 tons of material (over 75% of the project's waste), including concrete, cardboard, wood, light iron and drywall, were successfully diverted. These recyclable resources were redirected back to the manufacturing process.
7. Geothermal Energy
Forty on-site wells (with plastic tubes filled with an ethanol-water mixture) delve 400' into the earth where the temperature is a constant 55°F, capture the heat and then put it to use heating and cooling the CREC. Unlike traditional heating and cooling systems which often need to produce cold from hot air (similar to a window-unit air conditioner), geothermal systems take the earth's heat and therefore use much less energy. The CREC expects an energy performance improvement of 30% (compared to buildings with traditional heating and cooling systems).
8. Protecting the Reserve
Prior to design and construction, the site's 169 acres were surveyed to identify its many important natural features and upon which to base a conservation plan that would minimize the impact of construction. The building was constructed with great care under the plan and within clearly-marked boundaries, which minimized disturbance to the site. One highlight from the survey is that the Reserve is the only area within the entire state of Pennsylvania that serves as home to the beautiful Spiranthes Tuberosa, and the CREC is committed to preservation!
9. Tweaking the System
A comprehensive commissioning plan was designed for the CREC. The plan's intent was to verify that the building's energy systems perform according to the owner's need and the design team's specifications. The commissioning agent inspected and calibrated the heating, ventilating, air conditioning/refrigeration, lighting and hot water systems. This undertaking required the collaboration of the many different groups that make up the design and construction teams. Benefits of this commissioning include reduced energy use and lower operating costs.
10. Refrigerant Management
The CREC utilizes refrigeration and fire suppression systems that do not contain the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants. Ozone, as it functions in the Earth's upper atmosphere, is a beneficial gas that protects us against strong ultraviolet rays, which can cause negative health effects such as skin cancer and environmental impacts such as global climate change.
11. More Meters, Less Energy
To effectively monitor the CREC's energy consumption, the building utilizes separate meters for lighting, heating/cooling and receptacle loads. These meters are all connected to a computer-based Building Management System, which records all the energy data. In this way, not only can we pin-point where and how much energy is used to operate the various parts of the building, we can also receive real-time feedback to improve and track our energy performance - providing more accountability of our energy usage over time.
12. Breathe Easy!
The construction team implemented a plan to help ensure higher indoor air quality for the construction workers and building occupants. The plan included keeping open-ended ductwork sealed during construction, protecting stored materials from moisture and providing high-quality air filtration for heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment that operated during construction. The construction team also implemented a plan to "flush-out" the building in order to remove air contaminants before occupancy.
13. Low-Emitting Adhesives and Paints
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) exist in many building materials including paints, floor coatings and construction adhesives. They are indoor air pollutants that may cause serious health problems such as eye irritation, nausea, memory impairment and even cancer - depending on the level of exposure. In our building, with the comfort and well-being of our visitors and staff as our top priority, the design team specified materials with very low VOC levels that meet stringent industry standards.
14. Regional Material
The CREC incorporated many materials that have been extracted, harvested or manufactured within 500 miles of the project site; local raw materials such as steel and concrete score very high in this regard. Through ensuring demand for building materials that are extracted and manufactured within the region, the CREC supports the use of indigenous resources and reduces the environmental impacts resulting from transportation.
15. Multitude of Windows
We aim to enhance the recreational and educational experience of the CREC's visitors and staff by providing the opportunity to enjoy the view of the site's beautiful natural environment and connect to the surrounding Reserve area. To achieve this, the classrooms, meeting space and offices are located on the perimeter of the building and are provided with generous amounts of glazing.
16. Certified Wood
Many wood products used in the building, including the glulam 'tree' columns, some flooring, interior doors and oak casework, are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This council enforces very high standards in forestry management and ensures that products from its certified forests are harvested in an 'environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable' manner. By supporting FSC-certified products, we aim to promote the best use of forest resources, and minimize the environmental impact of our wood consumption. By supporting FSC-certified wood products, we hope to contribute to the efforts of other communities like ours to protect and use their land and forest in a sustainable manner.
17. Casework
The CREC's casework, including the reception desk and shelves, is constructed primarily of medium-density fiberboard & particleboard. These products contain 100% pre-consumer recycled wood fiber - in lieu of using virgin timber. Further, these wood products do not contain any added urea-formaldehyde resins. This ensures no release of carcinogenic formaldehyde within the building, which protects occupants from incurring eye and respiratory irritation or allergic reactions often caused by the chemical.
18. Green Carpets
The carpets installed in the CREC have many distinguishing eco-friendly features. The carpets in the CREC incorporate a minimum of 30% recycled content and use 10% less raw materials than most carpets. They also incorporate bio-based products such as flax and hemp in the fibers - rather than virgin petroleum-based raw materials. In addition, the level of Volatile Organic Compounds is kept at its minimum to ensure high indoor air quality and to eliminate any potential adverse health effects on the building occupants. Not only do the carpets reduce their carbon footprint before arriving at the building, they also extend their life beyond the building as they are part of a revolutionary reclamation program from the manufacturer with which all used carpets will be returned to the factory where they will be recycled again. This means none of our carpets will ever end up in landfills. Finally, with a touch of playful biomimetic design, we aim to add another dimension inside our building to bring nature closer to you.
19. Recycled Content
The building materials incorporated into the CREC contained a total of 26% post-consumer recycled content ('post-consumer' examples are used aluminum cans and newspapers that we place in recycling bins for curb-side pickup) - and 40% pre-consumer recycled content (a 'pre-consumer' example is wood fuel pellets made from woodchips). The exterior deck boards for instance incorporated 75% recycled content - specifically polyethylene from post-consumer discarded shampoo and detergent containers. This product is also produced in an energy efficient, virtually waste-free manufacturing process and no toxic chemicals are incorporated in it - ensuring that it is once again recyclable after its useful life as a deck. These materials have found their second life in the building and the high percentages successfully contribute to a reduced impact on the extraction and processing of virgin materials.
20. Water Use Reduction
The CREC utilizes high-efficiency/low-flow fixtures in the restrooms, changing rooms and kitchen in order to reduce water consumption and lessen the demand on municipal supply and waste-water systems. The low-flow toilets and urinals use 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) and .5 gpf, respectively - as opposed to standard 1.6 and 1 gpf fixtures. Faucets are low-flow and utilize motion-sensors where appropriate to further conserve water. Shower heads use 1.5 gpm - saving a full gallon of water each minute as compared to standard fixtures.
21. Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs)
The CREC's roof is constructed with Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs), which consist of insulating Styrofoam sandwiched between two pieces of Oriented Strand Boards (OSB). With the comparable strength to plywood, OSB is more sustainable as it consists of wood strips salvaged from waste materials during the manufacturing process of other wood products. SIPs last long and withstand extreme weather conditions. They offer a superior insulation for the building thereby reducing out energy consumption. The Styrofoam, OSBs and adhesives used in making SIPs meet high indoor air quality standards, ensuring no release of VOCs or any other harmful chemicals such as urea-formaldehyde. This energy-efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly material is also a smart choice for residences!
22. Concrete
You may have realized that the CREC has concrete floors with stamped tree leaves to provide you with another opportunity to embrace nature from inside. Fly-ash, which is a by-product of coal production, is used in lieu of a portion of heavy polluting Portland cement in the concrete. Concrete floors are often integrated into the passive solar building design as they optimize heat transfer by absorbing heat when it's hot in the building and then releasing it slowly as the building cools. Unlike a traditional wood floor, they have a high moisture resistance so they prevent the formation of mold; unlike carpets, their smooth surface does not trap dust or other allergens. Furthermore, concrete can dampen vibration and effectively reduce noise transmission in the building, adding to the privacy of the building occupants.
23. Heat Exchanger
The CREC's heating and air conditioning system utilizes a 'heat exchanger' that conserves a significant amount of energy when conditioning air. In order to ensure good air quality inside the building, fresh air is continually brought in from the outdoors, which for temperature control need to be heated or cooled (depending on the season) before being circulated. To conserve energy associated with heating the fresh incoming air in the winter for instance, the exchanger captures heat from the air that is being exhausted and transfers it to the colder outdoor incoming air. While the incoming fresh air cannot be completely heated or cooled by the exhausted air, it does raise the baseline temperature of the air significantly so that it requires much less energy to complete its conditioning before circulation.
24. Flooring
The CREC incorporates MONDO's Advance floor in the gymnasium. Advance has been established as the most durable and highest performing gymnasium/multipurpose synthetic surface in the industry. In meets all the demands of multipurpose use and exceeds the leading biomechanical standards set for competitive athletic events. It ensures comfort and safety through a Class 1 fire code rating and is antibacterial and antimicrobial throughout. The floor's 100% recyclable content and 20+ year life expectancy helps it to achieve Green Guard Certification - a stringent indoor air quality certification system.
25. Simulated Stone
The exterior wall of the CREC is built of rough-hewn simulated stone, which looks and feels like natural, quarried rock. Quarrying rock and stone, or harvesting rock and stone via open-pit mining, is environmentally intensive and permanently changes the landscape and destroys habitats. Quarrying, transporting and processing the stone also uses a substantial amount of energy. Therefore recycling defective stone to create durable and waterproof simulated stone is a resourceful solution that still provides the beauty of natural stone. Simulated stone is also warranted against blistering, peeling, corrosion, rust, rot, delamination, flaking and excessive fading. The long-term assurance of this material minimizes the upkeep and replacement of the exterior stone wall.