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DESERT NWR: Visitor Center at Desert National Wildlife Refuge Earns LEED® Certification
California-Nevada Offices , July 25, 2014
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Mountain motif at the entrance to the visitor center.
Mountain motif at the entrance to the visitor center. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Photovoltaic panels installed on the visitor center's parking lot shade structures.
Photovoltaic panels installed on the visitor center's parking lot shade structures. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Closeup view of solar panels on parking shade structures.
Closeup view of solar panels on parking shade structures. - Photo Credit: USFWS

By Dan Balduini

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center was awarded LEED® certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design — the nations preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance “green” buildings.

The visitor center, located just north of Las Vegas at Corn Creek, received LEED Platinum certification, which is the highest level possible. The rating was verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. The facility was certified for energy use, lighting, water and material use, and for incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies.

The Desert NWR Visitor Center was built with sustainable material and blends well with its natural surroundings. The concrete walls and mountain range motif at the entrance provide a thermal mass that helps the building maintain consistent indoor temperatures. Photovoltaic panels produce the facility’s electricity, resulting in “net zero” power consumption. The building’s windows provide enough natural light to minimize reliance on electric lights, while the heating, cooling and lighting are sensor controlled to further reduce energy use. Additionally, native Mojave Desert landscaping requires a small amount of water and the building’s low-flow plumbing fixtures help minimize indoor water use.

The 11,000-square-foot facility provides visitor information, exhibits, two classrooms/meeting rooms, and a bookstore. Additionally, the building has administrative offices for refuge staff. The visitor center opened to the public on December 20, 2013, and is currently open every Friday through Sunday, as well as on select holidays, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The Desert NWR is approximately 23 miles north of Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 95. A sign on the right side of the highway marks the turnoff onto Corn Creek Road leading to the visitor center. The wildlife refuge was established on May 20, 1936, for the protection, enhancement, and maintenance of wildlife resources, and particularly, the desert bighorn sheep. At 1.6 million acres, it is the largest national wildlife refuge in the contiguous United States. For more information about the wildlife refuge, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/desert/.

Dan Balduini is the public affairs officer at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada.


Contact Info: Daniel Balduini, 702-515-5480, daniel_balduini@fws.gov
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