Gulf State Park Interpretive Center
The Interpretive Center is a hub of education and connection with nature, linking the public with the beauty that Gulf Shores offers and simultaneously fostering a deeper understanding of its ecology. From the very beginning, the goal was to make this center a living building that could achieve all seven Petals of the Living Building Challenge. The design team worked together to determine optimal building orientation and glazing that best utilize the resources of the site.
The truly unique story of the Gulf State Park Interpretive Center project is how it deals with water. The project team decided to set the goal of generating all water onsite and accomplished this goal by utilizing one of the project site’s greatest natural resources: rain. After creating water models, the Integral Group team realized a net positive proposal was feasible. A key challenge was deciding what technology to use to transform rainwater into potable water. Technically-speaking, the options available were not unlike other systems typically used for non-potable reuse. Since the site will serve more than twenty-five people a year, the system is considered a public water utility, and is required to meet all the standards for municipal water purveyors and for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
The Center is on target to achieve its goal for full Living Building Challenge certification, and will be the third permitted commercial rainwater-to-potable water system in the nation.