Zion Visitor Center

Location

Springdale, UT

USA

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Building type
Retail
Building type
Interpretive Center
Building type
Assembly
Building type
Transportation
Building type
Park
Floor Area (ft2)
7600.0
Floor Area (m2)
706
Date of Occupancy/ Completion
2000-05-01
Annual Purchased Energy (kBtu/ft2)
39
Annual Purchased Energy (MJ/m2)
446
Certifications & Awards
  • Green Building Challenge in 2000
Project Team
  • Owner: National Park Service/Department of the Interior

Summary

As a primary component of the Zion Canyon Transportation System, this low-energy, sustainable facility is the entry to a transit- and pedestrian-centered visitor experience, providing park information, interpretation and trip-planning assistance within a resource environment. The new visitor center is part of a transportation system that seeks to reduce resource impacts and enhance the visitor experience. Consisting of indoor and outdoor spaces for visitor services, this facility creates a setting to promote and interpret park resources and agency conservation values. In creating the Zion National Park Visitor Center, the National Park Service (NPS), working with DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), has complemented Zion's natural beauty.

Overview

  • Location: Springdale, UT
  • Building type(s): Assembly, Park, Retail, Transportation, Interpretive Center
  • New construction
  • 7,600 sq. feet (706 sq. meters)
  • Project scope: a single building
  • Rural setting
  • Completed May 2000
  • Related projects: [[Zion Comfort Station] is within this project.
  • Rating: Green Building Challenge

As a primary component of the Zion Canyon Transportation System, this low-energy, sustainable facility is the entry to a transit- and pedestrian-centered visitor experience, providing park information, interpretation and trip-planning assistance within a resource environment. The new visitor center is part of a transportation system that seeks to reduce resource impacts and enhance the visitor experience. Consisting of indoor and outdoor spaces for visitor services, this facility creates a setting to promote and interpret park resources and agency conservation values. In creating the Zion National Park Visitor Center, the National Park Service (NPS), working with DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), has complemented Zion's natural beauty.

Environmental Aspects

Several effective energy features were included in this project: daylighting, Trombe walls for passive solar heating, [[downdraft cooltowers]] for natural ventilation cooling, energy-efficient lighting, and advanced building controls. A roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) system provides electric power. This project will save roughly $14,000 and about 10 kW of electric demand per year through these energy-saving measures.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by National Park Service/Department of the Interior, Federal government

  • Occupants: Federal government

The visitor center is open from 8:00 AM until 7:00 PM during the summer and until 5:00 PM during the winter. The building is cleaned from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces: Lobby/reception (50%), Retail general (40%), Office (5%), Restrooms
Outdoor Spaces: Pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle path, Wildlife habitat, Parking, Drives/roadway, Interpretive landscape, Garden—decorative, Shade structures/outdoor rooms

Keywords

Integrated team, Design charrette, Training, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Local materials, Occupant recycling, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort

Team & Process

Metering and monitoring by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are currently underway.

  • DOE-2.1e
  • SERI-RES
[James Crockett](learnmore.cfm?ProjectID=16) National Park Service--Denver Service Center Architect Denver, CO
[Patrick Shea](learnmore.cfm?ProjectID=16) National Park Service--Denver Service Center Project Leader (also Landscape Architect) Denver, CO
Larry Kilborn National Park Service--Denver Service Center Architect Denver, CO
Krista Copeland National Park Service--Denver Service Center Architect Denver, CO
Ron Judkoff National Renewable Energy Laboratory Energy consultant (Researcher)
[Paul Torcellini](learnmore.cfm?ProjectID=16) National Renewable Energy Laboratory Energy consultant, Senior engineer Golden, CO
Victoria Stinson National Park Service--Denver Service Center Landscape architect Denver, CO
Steve Burns National Park Service--Denver Service Center Landscape architect Denver, CO

The design team also included:

  • Owner/developer
  • Electrical engineer
  • Structural engineer
  • Contractor
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Civil engineer
  • Project Leader

Finance & Cost

  • Equity: Government appropriation

The Zion Visitor Center cost 30% less to build than a comparable National Park Visitor Center.

The project was federally funded and competitively procured.

Energy-saving measures will save roughly $14,000 per year and will result in about 10 kW of electric demand savings.

Land Use & Community

The site is within walking distance of two shuttle bus routes and commercial amenities. Bicycle and pedestrian transportation are encouraged through bike racks and shower/changing facilities.

  • Responsible Planning

    • Ensure that development fits within a responsible local and regional planning framework

  • Support for Appropriate Transportation

    • Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

    • Provide storage area for bicycles
  • Property Selection Opportunities

    • Select already-developed sites for new development

Site Description

Using this site, previously a campground, avoided unnecessary impact of natural and cultural resources. No undeveloped lands were used. Underutilized, existing areas in Springdale were used for parking and facility development. Construction was phased to minimize disturbance. Topsoil was stockpiled, runoff was diverted to existing sediment-catching areas, existing vegetation was maintained, no soil was transported off site, and dust control was implemented in roadwork adjacent to the existing campground.

Native low-water-use grasses and shrubs were used for landscaping. Historic irrigation channels were restored. Collected rainwater joins river water and is diverted through a series of gravity-fed irrigation ditches. High-efficiency irrigation techniques and drip irrigation with a weather data controller were installed primarily to encourage the reestablishment of native vegetation. (It may be possible to achieve 100% reduction of potable water for landscaping after plant establishment.)

  • Previously developed land

  • Development Impacts

    • Minimize development impact area
    • Limit parking area
  • Ecosystem Restoration

    • Replant damaged sites with native vegetation
  • Landscape Plantings

    • Plant trees to shade parked vehicles
  • Construction Impacts

    • Designate appropriate staging areas for construction-related activities

  • Demand for Irrigation

    • Select plants for drought tolerance
  • Integration with Site Resources

    • Use light-colored pavement to reduce heat island effect
  • Irrigation Systems

    • Use appropriate grading to retain irrigation and reduce runoff
    • Use water-efficient irrigation fixtures
  • Low-Impact Siting

    • Select an already-developed portion of a site for new development

Energy

A 70% reduction in energy use was met through the design and implementation of natural ventilation, efficient lighting, effective glazing, insulation, passive downdraft cooltowers, Trombe walls, photovoltaics, energy-efficient landscaping, and an energy management system.

The roof insulation is Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's). The walls are 6-inch steel studs with a spray-in-place foam insulation.

The cooltower design was adapted from a technique used to condition outdoor patio spaces. Hot dry air is drawn into evaporative cooling pads at the top of the tower. The air is now more dense and falls naturally through the tower into the space. High windows in the building relieve the hot air.

12% of the total energy load is provided by on-site PV, with an additional 10% allowed-for in the building design.

 

Materials & Resources

20% of materials, including stone, concrete, and paving, were manufactured within 500 miles (800 km) of the site.

Cleared vegetation and pavement were recycled.

  • Design for Materials Use Reduction

    • Reconsider whether all space demands in building program are needed

  • Recycling by Occupants

    • Specify recycling receptacles that are accessible to the occupants

  • Transportation of Materials

    • Prefer materials that are sourced and manufactured within the local area

Indoor Environment

Cool towers (which provide over 5 air changes per hour) and operable windows provide natural ventilation to building occupants. Thermal, ventilation, and lighting systems may be controlled by users. Extensive daylighting was implemented. The building remained unoccupied for 2 weeks following construction, while commissioning and final punch items were completed.

  • Visual Comfort and The Building Envelope

    • Use skylights and/or clerestories for daylighting
  • Visual Comfort and Interior Design

    • Design open floor plans to allow exterior daylight to penetrate to the interior

  • Ventilation and Filtration Systems

    • Provide occupants with access to operable windows
  • Ventilation During Construction

    • Purge the building of VOCs during furniture installation prior to move-in

  • Building Commissioning for IEQ

    • Use a comprehensive commissioning process to ensure that design intent is realized

  • Facility Policies for IEQ

    • Recommend a non-smoking policy for the building

Awards

  • American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards Program in 2001;  Category/title: Honor Award

  • AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects in 2001

Ratings

  • Green Building Challenge in 2000

Lessons Learned

Designing the electrical system and installing the conduit for future PV was ideal. When PV was added, it was installed in a few hours. The photovoltaic system and inverter are used for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system. A better definition of what loads were to be UPS-powered would have been useful. The UPS system is not guaranteed to provide continuous power. About 5% of the outgates have left the building with a brief (less than 1 second) outage—enough to reset computers. Some small UPS computer backups have been installed for the brief outages.

Cooltowers have worked as well as direct evaporative coolers except in the enclosed offices, where additional small fans were added. The recommendation is that cooltowers be used only in large open spaces.

Daylighting levels have been lower than anticipated. This was due to the large number of dark beams in the space and the white stained ceilings (instead of white paint, as modeled). In addition, bug screens on the operable windows have affected the daylighting level. The result has been additional operation of artificial lighting.

Trombe walls have exceeded operational expectations. However, a design change resulted in two enclosed offices against Trombe walls, and these offices tend to overheat. In large open zones, the Trombe walls are very effective.

Learn More

It is possible to visit this project. The Visitor Center is open year round from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

  • Magazines

    • Lessons Learned - High-Performance Buildings by Torcellini, Paul; Judkoff, Ron; Crawley, Dru
      Publication: ASHRAE Journal Vol. Vol. 46, No.9 p. S4 (September 2004)
      Article describes lessons learned from six high-performance buildings: Oberlin College Lewis Center, OH; Zion Visitor Center, UT; BigHorn Home Improvement Center, CO; NREL Thermal Test Facility, CO; Cambria Office Building, PA; and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, MD. http://www.ashrae.org

    • Zion Visitor Center Saves Energy and Preserves Resources: Design uses local materials, integrates indoor spaces with outdoor beauty by Snoonian, P.E., Deborah
      Publication: Architectural Record
      This Architectural Record article describes the project. It is available online as well as in print. http://www.archrecord.com/WEEKLY/GREEN/GR_ARTIC/GW_05_23.ASP

  • Web sites

    • Interactive Online Tour of Zion Editors: DOE

    • NPS's Zion Website
      This is the National Park Service's description of Zion National Park. Its focus is not the building but rather the park itself.

    • NREL's Zion Website

      This is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Website about Zion Visitor Center. It provides a detailed description of Zion's energy features and systems.

  • Others

    • Newsletter: Clean PV System is the "Natural" Choice for Emergency Power
      Publication: FEMP Focus Newsletter (Jan./Feb. 2001)
      This article from the FEMP newsletter discusses the PV panels utilized at Zion. It is available in print or online. http://www.eren.doe.gov/femp/newsevents/femp_focus/feb01_cleanpv.html

    • Technical Report: Evaluation of the Low-Energy Design and Energy Performance of the Zion National Park Visitors Center by Torcellini, P.; Long, N.; Pless, S.
      Publication: NREL/TP-550-34607 (2/2005)
      As part of its evaluation for the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published this detailed case study of the energy performance of the Zion Visitor Center comparing measured energy use to the project's design goals and identifing successes and lessons learned. (PDF 3.30 MB) Download Acrobat Reader

    • Brochure: Highlighting High Performance Brochure--Zion National Park Visitor Center (PDF 0.80 MB) Download Acrobat Reader

    • Conference paper: Lessons Learned from Field Evaluation of Six High-Performance Buildings by Torcellini, Paul; Dru, Crawley; Shanti, Pless, et al. (July 2004)
      NREL conference paper published for the 2004 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. (PDF 716 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

    • Peer Reviewed Paper: Photovoltaics for Buildings: New Applications and Lessons Learned by Hayter, Sheila; Torcellini, Paul; Deru, Michael
      Publication: American Council for an Eenrgy-Efficiency Economy Summer Study (2002) (PDF 760 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

    • Newsletter: Zion National Park Dedicates Energy-Efficient Visitor Center
      Publication: FEMP Focus Newsletter (July/Aug. 2000)
      This article, from the FEMP newsletter, focuses on the energy features of Zion. It is available online or in print. http://www.eren.doe.gov/femp/newsevents/femp_focus/aug00_zion.html

    • Conference Paper: Zion National Park Visitor Center: Significant Energy Savings Achieved Through a Whole-Building Desing Process by Torcellini, Paul; Judkoff, Ron (8/2002)
      Preprint of paper for ACEEE02 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Pacif Crove, CA August 18-23, 2002 (PDF 570 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

    • Brochure: Zion National Park Visitor Center: A Sustainable Building for the Future (August 2000)
      Part of the U.S. Department of Energy's "Highlighting High Performance" series, this brochure is available online in PDF form. (PDF 803 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

James Crockett National Park Service--Denver Service Center Architect 12795 W. Alameda Parkway P.O. Box 25287 Denver, CO  80225 303-969-2386
Paul Torcellini National Renewable Energy Laboratory Energy consultant, Senior engineer 1617 Cole Blvd. Golden, CO  80401 303-384-7528
Patrick Shea National Park Service--Denver Service Center Project Leader (also Landscape Architect) Denver, CO