ASSA ABLOY Lives up to Brock Environmental Center’s “Living Building Challenge”

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Product transparency and commitment to sustainability make products from ASSA ABLOY Group brands a natural fit at Brock Environmental Center.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va., is one of the first buildings designed to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge (LBC).  A holistic approach to building, LBC requires all project stakeholders to consider the life cycle impact of design, construction and operation of the structure. ASSA ABLOY’s products were chosen for their adherence to the stringent LBC guidelines, most notably that products offer transparency in how they are sourced and manufactured.

“When we built our headquarters building, the Phillip Merrill Environmental Center, LEED Platinum was the ultimate, and now that’s almost become mainstream,” says Christopher Gorri of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “That’s why we set our sights on the Living Building Challenge, to constantly push the boundaries.”

“Whereas LEED is about doing less harm and using fewer resources, LBC advocates a more positive approach; for example, by producing all energy on site,” says Greg Mella, FAIA, LEED AP, SmithGroupJJR project manager and design architect. “We knew that together with our partners, we were going to have be aggressive in our design.”

Green BuildingThe 10,000-square-foot, one-story building is an international model for energy- and water-efficiency and a living laboratory of sorts as a new destination for hands-on, field-based environmental education. The Brock Environmental Center will serve as the hub for CBF’s Hampton Road office and support its education, outreach, and advocacy and restoration initiatives.

Located on an ecologically sensitive site, it is predicted to be net-zero energy, containing a wide variety of sustainable elements that include solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal wells, rain cisterns, waterless toilets and native landscaping.

Architects SmithGroupJJR and builder Hourigan Construction used low-impact building techniques to construct the center, which features many recycled and repurposed items, from old school bleachers to mirrors and toilet accessories from a local hospital demolition. Since LBC standards dictate environmentally safe materials, they turned to ASSA ABLOY to supply a wide variety of components.

Adhering to LBC standards requires companies to provide product declarations, from recycled content to where they originated, as well as complete supply chain information.

“We were able to bid and win this project in large part because we are transparent about where our products are made, how they are made and what we do during the manufacturing process,” says Dave Moncure, principal of ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions – Chesapeake.

Because of ASSA ABLOY’s focus on sustainability, they were able to speak a common language to communicate with the architect, owner and general contractor.

According to Mella, there are approximately 1,000 different products in the building, each of which needed documentation and a list of ingredients. “It’s a complicated process because most products contain subcomponents sourced from all over the world. We know that ASSA ABLOY has a shared commitment to the product declarations so if there was an ASSA ABLOY product we could use, we gave preferences to those.”

Among the products used were Sargent door closers, exit devices, cylindrical locks; ASSA ABLOY Door Accessories (McKinney hinges, Rockwood protection plates); Norton door operators and Curries hollow metal doors and frames, welcomed for the extra insulation they provide.

Pemko weather stripping was another key product, to prevent transfer of heat, a key consideration given the building’s site on the water.

And, Gorri adds, ASSA ABLOY played a role in ensuring that a variety of components and access points from another manufacturer were modified to meet standards once they arrived onsite. “We were in a bind with some components, and they were able to bridge the gap. They provided service above and beyond.” 

“We were able to secure this job and fulfill their needs because ASSA ABLOY is a solutions-oriented company,” Moncure says. “We are not just selling a door or a hinge, but our transparency and ability to communicate sustainable solutions.”