The National Audubon Society’s Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles has been certified as the nation’s most environmentally friendly building. The conservation organization’s Audubon Center received a Platinum Rating – the highest possible – from the U.S. Green Building Council, the nation’s leading authority on sustainable building practices.Los Angeles, California – February 12, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The Audubon Center at Debs Park is the first building in the nation to receive the Platinum Rating under the Council’s new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System 2.1. The achievement catapults Audubon to the head of the pack of southern California buildings seeking LEED ratings, as well as ahead of other buildings that were certified as Platinum under LEED’s earlier, 1.0 pilot version. The design of the Audubon Center at Debs Park focuses on a number of key environmental issues that are at the heart of sustainable building, including renewable energy sources, water conservation, recycled building materials, and native landscaping. The 5,023 square-foot building is the first in the city of Los Angeles to be entirely powered by on-site solar systems – functioning entirely off the grid. The building also uses significantly less water than a conventional building of its size. “Audubon has been a leader in conservation for nearly a century,” said Jerry Secundy, executive director of Audubon California. “The Audubon Center at Debs Park continues that legacy. As our nation’s cities and population grow, the environmental and economic advantages of sustainably designed buildings will become increasingly important. The role of the Audubon Center as a model of green architecture will only grow more significant in years to come.” In order to meet the requirements for the Platinum Rating, a building must earn a minimum of 52 sustainability points out of an available 69. Points are awarded for everything from site selection and materials used, to innovative design and indoor environmental quality. The Audubon Center at Debs Park earned 53 LEED points, garnering particularly high marks for its efficient water system, and renewable energy sources. “In a city like Los Angeles, embracing sustainable design is one of the most responsible actions you can take,”” said Christine Ervin, President and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council. “As a premier example of green architecture, the Audubon Center will provide inspiration and guidance for others looking to go green.” While energy and water conservation are major green features of the building, Audubon’s commitment extended way beyond those requirements. Virtually every aspect of the Audubon Center at Debs Park – from the floor to the rooftop – was crafted to adhere to the stringent LEED 2.1 requirements. Recycled materials were used wherever possible, included melted down handguns and scrap metal in the rebar that strengthens concrete blocks and floors. The use of organic materials was also key, and is demonstrated in everything from the carpeting of Mexican agave plant, to wheat board and sunflower board cabinets and desks. The LEED program also stresses the importance of using locally harvested and manufactured materials, including wood, landscape plantings, sheet metal, concrete, and paving materials. More than 25 percent of the building materials used in the Audubon Center were locally harvested, and more than 50 percent of the materials were locally manufactured – in both cases an amount 2.5 times that required to achieve LEED credits. Located just ten minutes northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is 282-acres of urban wilderness. Debs Park hosts coyotes and 138 species of birds, yet is surrounded by some of the city’s densest urban neighborhoods. Within two miles there are 50,000 young people, predominantly Latino, for whom the park and The Audubon Center will provide a lifetime of outdoor discovery. Audubon assembled a team of Green Building Council affiliates to bring the Audubon Center at Debs Park to life. The building was designed by EHDD Architects, and built by TG Construction. Soltierra, LLC, handled the LEED documentation and submission. BOVIS Lend Lease acted as owner’s representative, and more than twenty other firms provided design and construction services. Campbell and Campbell created the architectural concept and landscape architecture designs. The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote environmentally responsible design and construction. The LEED rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for evaluating high-performance, sustainable buildings.