2009 Awards: Denali National Park Eielson Visitor Center

Denali National Park and Preserve completed the first LEED Platinum building for the National Park Service and Alaska on June 8, 2008.  The Eielson Visitor Center, located 66 miles inside Denali’s wilderness, utilizes renewable energy sources for 82% of the energy it consumes.  The visitor center is a very low profile earth berm building, that provides visitors with an unobstructed intimate view of 20,320 foot high Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest peak.  Through the interpretive exhibits in and around the building visitors learn about Climate Change, LEED and sustainability and how they can make a difference through changes in their activities and practices that will benefit society and the world.

This project demonstrated that the Park Service can build a highly sustainable building in the extreme sub-arctic and remote environs of Alaska.  The new visitor center uses less energy than the previous visitor center, even though it is more than twice as big.  The exterior finishes require no maintenance and the natural vegetation used for landscaping around the building do not need to be watered.  The building is much “healthier” for the occupants because of the low VOC materials used throughout.  Projections are that the building life cycle costs will be less than the building it replaced.