For years, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas was housed in a turn-of-the-century warehouse in downtown Fort Worth. This weekend, though, BRIT takes a big leap forward, moving into the 21st century with a super-efficient, super-sustainable new facility.
BRIT's new home, a green campus in the heart of Fort Worth, opens to the public today. The new $48 million, 70,000-square-foot facility will house the 24-year-old nonprofit organization's library, research center and herbarium of more than a million dried plant specimens. It also will be an education center, with science, nature and conservation programs for children and adults. The new campus was designed to make BRIT -- an organization that has built an international presence in botanical research, plant study and conservation -- a group that practices what it preaches.
The campus was designed with so many efficient and sustainable features that BRIT will seek a Platinum rating from the LEED Green Building Certification System, the highest rating awarded for green buildings. It has also been selected as a pilot project for the new Sustainable Sites Initiative, or SITES, a program that sets standards for sustainable landscapes.
The building features a long list of eco-friendly qualities: low-flow water fixtures, sustainable wool carpets and bamboo ceilings, triple-paned windows that let light in while keeping heat out. But the real innovation can be seen outside the building. BRIT is working to preserve a bit of the Fort Worth prairie, letting native plants and grasses grow free behind the building. On the roof, a carpet of native plants will help insulate the building. All over the property, systems are designed to capture rainwater and use it to maintain the landscape, keeping runoff water from being wasted in the sewer system. And solar panels and geothermal wells will turn sunlight and the earth's heat into clean energy, saving money and fossil fuels.