Smokies Lab Wins High Marks for Green Design and Construction
Contact: Bob Miller, (865) 436-1207
The Twin Creeks Science and Education Center at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has just received certification at the Gold Level under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, “As stewards of America’s most prominent and pristine natural and cultural resources, the National Park Service strives to set the best possible example of developing its facilities in such a manner as to make them as energy efficient and sustainable as we possibly can. In addition, we design structures that minimally disrupt and are visually harmonious with the settings in which they are placed.”
The building conserves energy by using large, insulated windows to maximize use of daylight, but also open and close automatically to take advantage of cool mountain breezes instead of air-conditioning. High-efficiency light fixtures adjust automatically to compensate for changes in outside light entering the building. Temperature controls are computerized to reduce energy use on nights and weekends when the building is unoccupied.
The Twin Creeks Science and Education Center is located about two miles from and 1,000 feet above Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Its exterior is clad in regional river stone around the base, with cedar wood and generous amounts of glass above. Five high, gabled dormers echo the mountain scenery surrounding it. Covered porches at each of the two entryways serve as extra gathering and work space.
Did You Know?
An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls.