Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge – Visitor Center

This Visitor Center is a marvel of clean energy generation and use, achieving Zero Net Energy (ZNE) and LEED Silver accred­itation. Conservation measures implemented include upgraded building insulation, daylight harvesting, and ground-source geo­thermal HVAC. On-site renewable energy is provided by roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels.

The 5,000 sq. ft. facility is situated on a four-acre site and includes staff office space, visitor facilities, lobby, reception area, multipurpose room, exhibit room, and public restrooms. Exte­rior elements include parking for visitor buses/RVs, passenger cars, and staff vehicles. ADA-accessible trails provide access to the site’s amenities including a seasonal stream with associ­ated riparian area, vistas, and interpretive displays. The design incorporates aspects important to the native populace such as an east-facing entry and banding to express the red-tailed hawk. Inspiration was sought from the cultural history of the area, the landscape, the forms, and the native wildlife. US­FWS was integral in the design process, pushing CTA to create something as culturally relevant as possible.

The Pahranagat NWR Visitor Center is an example of CTA’s truly integrated design. The USFWS required a LEED Silver certification but set a goal of achieving Zero Net Energy con­sumption. CTA involved all key members of the design team and ideas were evaluated for functionality, aesthetics, and performance. Energy modeling was used with early archi­tectural modeling to inform orientation and building massing as well as materials and systems. The result is a cost-effective, high-performance building exceeding performance goals. Af­ter a full year of operation, energy data showed the facility was well below Zero Net Energy consumption. The building pushed almost twice as much energy as it consumed back to the elec­trical grid over the past 12 months.

CTA was responsible for all A/E services necessary to deliver this project including architecture; audiovisual; civil, electrical, fire protection, structural, mechanical, and forensic engineering; interior design; landscape architecture; and site design.