DURHAM, N.C. – The Orrin H. Pilkey Research Laboratory at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., has received LEED Gold certification for sustainable design from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Achieving LEED Gold status certifies that the Pilkey Lab meets some of the industry’s highest standards for sustainable design, energy and water conservation, indoor air quality and low environmental footprint.  

Photo Credit:  Scott Taylor Photography

The 12,000-square-foot lab, which is located on the southern tip of Pivers Island overlooking Beaufort Inlet, houses a state-of-the-art molecular biology lab, a teaching lab, meeting areas and offices. It was dedicated on May 4, 2014, and is the first new research building constructed at the Marine Lab since the 1970s.

Photo Credit:  Scott Taylor Photography

It becomes the second building at the Duke Marine Lab to achieve LEED Gold-level certification or higher. The 5,600-square-foot Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservancy Center, which houses a lecture hall, meeting spaces and a teaching lab, is certified LEED Platinum.

The Marine Lab is part of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Environment Hall, the school’s 70,000-square-foot classroom and office building on Duke’s main campus in Durham, also is certified LEED Platinum.

The Pilkey Lab’s green features include:
* Natural light and ventilation  – The lab is designed to take advantage of Pivers Island’s prevailing winds and sunlight to provide as much natural lighting and ventilation as possible. All regularly occupied rooms have windows that provide views to the surrounding barrier islands or the Marine Lab campus.

* Reduced water use – Low-flow plumbing fixtures, water-wise landscaping using native plants, and other design features reduce the building’s water use by 50 percent.

* Site design – The use of permeable, light-reflecting materials for walkways and other exterior surfaces helps minimize storm water runoff and reduce the heat-island effect.  Native plants and a constructed sand dune system reflect the natural landscapes found on adjacent barrier islands.

* Energy-efficient heating and cooling – The building’s mechanical systems are designed to cut energy costs by about 30 percent. A closed-loop geothermal vertical ground source circulation system takes advantage of the constant temperature of groundwater below the building for heating and cooling.  All air systems recirculate air for maximum efficiency. The heating and cooling system is controlled by an automated building-wide system which ties into and can be monitored at both the Marine Lab and Duke’s main campus in Durham.

* Smart lighting systems – Vacancy and occupancy sensors throughout the building help reduce the use of lighting when rooms are unoccupied.  

* Use of recycled and regional materials – About 30 percent of the materials used in the building, including the weather-resistant cypress wood interior and exterior siding, were produced within 500 miles of Beaufort. About 18 percent of the materials also contained recycled content.

* Indoor air quality – The building’s mechanical systems are designed to minimize air pollutants and create a healthy indoor environment. Low-VOC or zero-VOC paints, sealants, adhesives and solvents also contribute to air quality in the building. The main entry is covered with a mat made of recycled tires to reduce the amount of outdoor pollutants that enter the building.  

Photo Credit:  Scott Taylor Photography

Because hurricane-force winds occasionally batter Pivers Island and, as sea level rises over the coming century, storm surge could inundate the lowest portions of the island, the building has been engineered to withstand 132 mph winds and flooding with minimal damage.

The Pilkey Laboratory was designed and built by GLUCK+, formerly Peter Gluck and Partners and Locus Construction, of New York City.

It is named for Orrin H. Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.  Pilkey is one of America’s most widely cited coastal geologists and experts on sustainable coastal development.