The American Institute of Architects Washington Council recently honored King County’s Brightwater Environmental Education and Community Center with a 2012 Citation Award for Excellence in Civic Design.
The Brightwater Center opened in 2011 to offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the environmental mission of the adjacent Brightwater Treatment Plant.
The facility’s unique design incorporates sustainable features that also serve as a teaching tool. Digester gas produced during the wastewater treatment process heats the building, while reclaimed water is used for non-drinking purposes such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation. Other green elements include solar panels for electricity, skylights to reduce artificial lighting, and natural ventilation to maintain building comfort without air conditioning.
In addition to being equipped with classrooms and laboratory space for students from elementary school through university, the facility also offers community meeting rooms for a variety of groups and events.
Seattle-based Mithun led the design of the Brightwater education center to meet LEED® Platinum standards. Design was also guided by a community advisory group that included local businesses, environmental groups, local Native American tribes, education administrators and Friends of the Hidden River, a Bothell nonprofit organization comprised of local teachers dedicated to environmental education in the Puget Sound and surrounding regions. The group has to date raised more than $1 million in grant money to cover costs associated with the facility’s sustainable features and furnishings, and to develop its educational programs.
King County has also formally partnered with IslandWood, a Bainbridge-Island based non-profit dedicated to environmental education, to expand Brightwater Center’s educational programming.
More information about Brightwater Center is available online at http://www.kingcounty.gov/brightwatercenter.
--Information from King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks