Omega Center for Sustainable Living

BNIM Architects

Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Architect: BNIM Architects

Size: 6,200 sf

Status: Completed in 2009

Awards and Certifications: 

  • LEED Platinum Certified
  • Net Zero Energy
  • Living Building
  • AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten, 2010

Designed to protect the local ecosystem, preserve freshwater resources, and serve as a community resource, the Omega Institute’s new, 6,200 sf Center for Sustainable Living is the first of its kind in the United States to combine sophisticated green building and wastewater treatment technologies under one roof. The innovative educational center demonstrates ecological responsibility and alternative construction techniques that can be replicated locally and globally. OCSL has indoor and outdoor classrooms for visitors, a laboratory, a water garden, constructed wetlands, and a biological wastewater filtration system called an Eco Machine. The self-sustaining building is heated and cooled by geothermal systems using solar and passive heating in winter and sun shading in summer while generating photovoltaic power. This comprehensive project relied on a team of experts in wastewater, landscape, civil, mechanical, and structural design, each with a history of integrative practice on high-performance buildings. In periodic all-team meetings and ongoing collaboration, David Mar contributed to a highly integrated design and ultimately a highly integrated building and site. OCSL achieved LEED Platinum and, more importantly, Living Building certification in 2010. The Living Building Challenge, widely regarded as the world’s most rigorous green-building performance standard, has redefined the design and construction process for more than seventy projects since its launch in 2006. To achieve “Living” status, all program requirements must be met and proven through a full year of operation. A Living Building must generate all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; capture and treat its own water through ecologically sound techniques; incorporate only nontoxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently and for maximum beauty.

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