disney wilderness preserve

walt disney world, FLorida

The Nature Conservancy provides 7,600 square feet of administrative offices, laboratory, conference rooms, and exhibit space for an environmental education and administration facility on a 10,500 acre nature preserve.  Arranged in a complex of three separate buildings connected by a covered walkway, the facility embraces the natural setting and takes advantage of passive climate control.  Since the various functions that occur within the facility have unique programmatic requirements as well as different energy requirements, grouping spaces according to type, frequency and duration of use reduces energy consumption.  Deep overhangs, combined with proper building orientation, control the sunlight while still providing daylighting.  Metal roofs, autoclaved aerated concrete block walls and energy efficient windows reduce heat gain through the building envelope.  Operable windows and high ceilings allow for natural ventilation.  Photovoltaic roof panels provide renewable energy.  A geothermal HVAC system provides energy efficient air conditioning.  In addition to energy efficiency, consideration was given to other aspects of sustainable architecture.  Materials were chosen for low toxicity, low embodied energy, recycled content and recyclability.  Much of the wood is sustainably harvested, and the pressure treating process is less toxic than conventional methods.  Floor finishes include ceramic tile, wood, sealed concrete, natural linoleum and recycled carpet.  Low-VOC paint keeps off-gassing to a minimum.  The use of autoclaved aerated concrete block lends a simplicity to the wall system that results in fewer materials, which reduces resource consumption.  To conserve water resources, a cistern allows rainwater to be used for washing maintenance equipment.  Consideration to the environment continues into the construction phase as well.  A construction waste management program allows some waste materials to be sorted and recycled.  The construction site is also kept free of trash, which helps maintain the natural beauty of the preserve, protects the wildlife and contributes to a better working environment.  This project proves that even within a very tight budget, there can still be an environmentally responsible solution.