Duke Farms Farm Barn Orientation Center and Orchid Range Earn LEED© Platinum Building Certification

October 25, 2013 (Hillsborough, NJ) -The Farm Barn Orientation Center and Orchid Range at Duke Farms were both recently awarded LEED Platinum certification for its commitment to the highest standards of green building.


The U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification system is the nation’s benchmark for the design, construction and operation of the world’s greenest, most energy efficient and high-performing buildings. LEED Certification of the Farm Barn was based on seven key categories of Human and Environmental Health: Sustainable Site Development, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Operations and Regional Priority.


“Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, Duke Farms clearly demonstrates their leadership through their LEED certification,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The Farm Barn and Orchid Range projects efficiently use our natural resources and make an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations.”


Duke Farms began a massive retooling beginning in 2009 to achieve its mission to serve as a model of environmental stewardship and to inspire visitors to become informed stewards of the land. The property opened to the public in May 2012 and has since hosted nearly 500,000 visitors.


Both the Farm Barn Orientation Center and the Orchid Range were built nearly 110 years ago and have been repurposed to accommodate a variety of uses, and heavy visitation, while adhering to Duke Farm’s commitment to environmental stewardship.


 “We are extremely proud to be able to meet the standards for LEED Platinum certification for both Farm Barn and the Orchid Range” said Michael Catania, Executive Director of Duke Farms. “We also believe that these two beautiful, versatile structures will serve as useful examples for others, as well as provide excellent venues for the full range of programs and activities that we offer to our visitors.“  


Duke Farms underwent an exhaustive planning process, taking stock of its resources, working with state, federal and local conservation organizations, reaching out to local communities and other public gardens to assist in the development of a new vision for the property.


Critical to the success of the project, VITETTA was the lead planner and designer, executing this exciting new vision and plan for the transformation of Duke Farms to its new environmental mission; providing the public with education programs and increased access to the property’s unique cultural landscapes.

Preservation is the original "green" architecture, and we were pleased to have been able to design the structures to meet Duke Farms’ mission and achieve LEED platinum certification for both buildings,” said Nan Gutterman, Project Manager for VITETTA. “VITETTA wishes to congratulate Duke Farms Foundation, the entire Design Team and the Construction Manager on the success of the project.”


Duke Farms has capitalized on the embedded energy already existing in the built environment by adapting structures rather than demolishing and constructing anew. The Farm Barn, once used to shelter thoroughbred horses and later dairy cattle, now provides 22,000 square feet for uses including an expansive orientation center (complete with multimedia interactive displays), a classroom and a café.  


A 640-killowatt ground-mounted solar array of 3,120 panels is designed to provide 100 percent of the electrical power for the Farm Barn, and the energy that the property does not use gets transferred to the local public power grid.  This alternative energy component complements the 56 geothermal wells that aid in efficient heating and cooling of the orientation center and surrounding offices.  The 400-foot deep wells circulate water through a thermally-controlled piping loop, using the moderate underground temperatures to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.


Indoor temperature, air quality and lighting controls, along with the use of light shelves and skylights in the second floor office space, reduce energy costs and increase comfort.  The area surrounding the Farm Barn contains constructed wetlands to clean wastewater from the building, discharging it back into the groundwater.  The building places fewer demands on non-renewable energy resources, minimizes pollution and waste, and creates a healthier indoor and outdoor environment. Rainwater captured from the roof is collected in an underground cistern, filtered, and used in the building for all non-potable needs. Any excess of the cistern’s 5,000 gallon capacity overflows into the property’s rain garden.


The Orchid Range commemorates Doris Duke’s life-long love of orchids, and her commitment to cultivating new and native species. The Orchid Range, originally built in 1899, now features a sub-tropical display, tropical orchid display, orchid support houses and native nursery houses. The environmentally sound building design included: double-paned, insulated glass replaced the original single-pane glass, a water capturing system offsets the demands watering the plants, solar water heaters to run the boiler for the radiant heat system and transom windows to allow for optimal air flow, contributing to passive cooling.


Duke Farms has designed building and landscape systems to achieve maximum energy performance through the use of both on- and off-site renewable energy to demonstrate a pathway to a more sustainable future. Many of the systems used at Duke Farms may be replicated by homeowners on a smaller scale, or by other organizations on a larger scale.

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