Cusano Environmental Education Center
The Cusano Environmental Education Center (CEEC) is a visitor center and educational facility in Philadelphia at the most urban of the over 500 wildlife refuges in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife system. In support of its mission, the building upholds the principles of sustainable design, minimizing impacts to the environment through energy efficiency, the use of recycled materials, and in the treatment of the site. A "living machine" that processes the waste water from the building is a major part of the exhibit demonstrating the valuable purification characteristics of the marsh. This building complex is designed to demonstrate how to minimize a building’s impact on a natural site.
The major sustainable design features of the CEEC focus on Energy, Construction Materials, and Water Use. Energy conservation is achieved through a building form that maximizes daylighting, natural ventilation, and passive solar heating. Energy efficient electric lighting, insulation, and a geothermal heating system further reduce life-cycle costs. The design also features materials that were considered for their recycled content and environmental impact. Materials such as cork flooring, recycled rubber mats, and salvaged and sustainably harvested wood, help to make for a warm and environmentally friendly interior for visitors to the CEEC.
Preservation of the natural habitat is the goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The marsh is one of the most important aspects of the Refuge and is of great value to the natural habitat. Careful consideration was given to the treatment of water at the site. The building is placed on pilings so that storm water and natural systems cannot be disturbed. In addition, parking is on a porous paving system for storm water management and rainwater is harvested for irrigation. The building is meant to serve as a demonstration of environmentally sensitive design principles. Signs are placed throughout the building to describe these strategies.