WATERSHED served as the Gulf Coast Sustainability Specialist for the Gulf State Park Lodge Design team, led by Rabun Rasche Rector Reese and Lake Flato Architects. Our role was to translate the vision and master plan for the Gulf State Park into measurable sustainability goals within the LEED™, SITES®, and FORTIFIED™ Rating Systems, and verify their achievement through the certification process.
The Lodge used the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system to measure building performance in terms of water conservation, energy conservation, healthy indoor environments, and wise material use. LEED is the most widely used green building certification system in the world today, with over 96,000 LEED buildings in over 160 countries. It is the gold standard of green buildings and was critical to validating the Lodge’s status as a true eco-tourism destination.
The SITES® rating system for sustainable landscapes was used to measure the success of the dune restoration and the development of the landscape around the lodge as working green infrastructure. A traditional hotel landscape mostly serves as “decoration,” and requires a significant amount of water, energy and chemical pesticides and fertilizers to maintain. In contrast, the lodge landscape provides habitat for wildlife, buffers the buildings from future storm surges, and naturally filters and absorbs stormwater through wetlands and swales. In short, it was designed to optimize all of those services that intact ecosystems inherently provide, while also creating a beautiful vacation setting for guests.