Going Green at the Marine Lab

November 30, 2006

When the Duke Marine Laboratory dedicated its new Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center in November, it was a doubly significant occasion: The Repass Center is the first new academic building constructed at the Marine Lab in thirty years, and it is the lab's first "green" building.

The building uses geothermal pumps for heating and cooling, solar panels for hot water, and photovoltaic rooftop panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Local building materials, such as yellow southern pine and Atlantic white cedar, and recycled wood are used throughout the structure. Other eco-friendly features include natural daylight in all spaces, fresh-air ventilation, deep overhangs to provide shade, native landscape and permeable sidewalks, and a zinc roof designed to last 100 years.

Housed in the center are a teaching laboratory, a forty-eight-seat lecture hall equipped with state-of-the-art teleconferencing and videoconferencing facilities, and a large, glass-enclosed commons area containing art and sculpture with views of the Rachel Carson Research Reserve, Beaufort Inlet, and Shackleford Banks.

A $2.3-million gift from Randy Repass B.S.E.E. '66, chairman of West Marine Inc. of Watsonville, California, and his wife, Sally-Christine Rodgers, helped fund the center and create a University Professorship in Marine Conservation Technology at the Marine Lab. The new center is named in honor of Repass' mother.

Designed by Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, the center is designed to meet the highest standards for energy and environmental efficiency adopted by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. The building signals a commitment to making the Beaufort campus "a model for environmental sustainability, and it significantly enhances our capabilities for collaborative research, outreach, and education," says Cindy L. Van Dover, director of the Marine Lab, which is a component of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.