Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

San Luis National Wildlife Refuges Building Receives Top Award

Feb 13, 2013

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex
PO Box 2176
Los Banos, CA 93635

February 13, 2013

Contact: Kim Forrest, Wildlife Refuge Manager

San Luis National Wildlife Refuges Building Receives Top Award
Platinum-rated headquarters/visitor center first in the National Wildlife Refuge System

LOS BANOS – The Headquarters and Visitor Center at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) has been awarded a Platinum certified rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the first LEED Platinum building in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

In October 2011, the Service opened a new headquarters and visitor center, built with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, on the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos, California. The 16,500 square-foot facility provides office space for the staff of the San Luis NWR Complex.

The San Luis NWR Complex includes the San Luis NWR, Merced NWR, San Joaquin River NWR, and Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, established for wildlife conservation. The refuges are located in the northern San Joaquin Valley counties of Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin. The extensive wetlands of the Complex and surrounding lands provide habitat for up to a million waterfowl each winter, as well as hundreds of thousands of shorebirds and other waterbirds, and large numbers of songbirds and raptors. The refuges offer visitors opportunities to hunt, fish, observe and photograph wildlife, and participate in environmental education and interpretation.

The new facility is an educational asset and environmental design model to the communities of the Central Valley and beyond. It enhances and strengthens the Refuge Complex’s environmental education and interpretive programs. The visitor center provides a 1,500 square-foot interactive exhibit hall with exhibits focusing on the unique wildlife and habitats protected by refuge lands, as well as a 1,000-square-foot classroom to serve the environmental education needs of local public school and college students for decades to come.

A LEED Platinum rating is the highest rating possible for “green” design, construction, and operations from the U.S. Green Building Council. The facility has become the first Platinum-rated building in the Fish and Wildlife Service. LEED is a program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that includes a rating system providing architects, builders, and facility owners and operators with a framework they can use to identify and implement practical and measureable “green” sustainable solutions to building design, construction, operations, and maintenance.

To earn its LEED Platinum certification, the San Luis Visitor Center met a long list of standards for energy conservation, renewable energy production, water efficiency, use of recycled materials in construction, and indoor environmental quality and control. The team responsible for the project was well-versed in sustainable design and construction. Catalyst Architecture, the architects on the project, are LEED-certified and include a LEED Accredited Professional who assisted by identifying environmentally friendly “green” elements that could be incorporated into the building’s design and construction.

A grand opening ceremony was held in October 2011 to celebrate completion of the building, but LEED eligibility is generally reviewed and certified one to two years post-completion of a project.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at