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NEWPORT BEACH, CA-The Environmental Nature Center plans to break ground Tuesday on a new 9,000-sf LEED-certified facility designed by Irvine-based LPA Inc. that will replace portable trailers that the center has been using as classrooms for the past 30 years. The nonprofit Nature Center’s new building will provide facilities for students studying the Southern California ecology and environment.

Rick D’Amato, design principal at LPA, points out that the 9,000-sf Nature Center building was designed to meet the LEED platinum certification for design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. It is estimated that LPA’s sustainable design will save the ENC $20,000 on an annual basis.

According to Bo Glover, executive director of the ENC, the nature center sought a green design “to complement our commitment to natural science education.” The design will also demonstrate to students and visitors alike that “green design is the wave of the future,” Glover comments.

The new ENC building will be developed on a one-acre site at 1601 16th St. in Newport Beach. As part of the green design, the ENC classrooms are oriented along an east-west axis to optimize northern light and take advantage of the natural ocean breeze, while retaining space for future gardens.

D’Amato points out that the classrooms will educate visitors about the benefits of environmentally conscious design through the application of new technologies. These include powering the building from renewable resources such as solar panels and maintaining the ENC’s staff health by monitoring building carbon dioxide levels.

Other sustainable features of the design include on-site storm water treatment using retention and percolation basins, drought-tolerant landscaping, fixtures that promote water conservation, walls and flooring constructed of recycled materials and the incorporation of photovoltaic panels along with natural ventilation and high efficiency lighting. LPA’s principal in charge of the project is Jim Wirick, with D’Amato serving as design principal and Dave Duff as project manager.

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