AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Pocono Environmental Education and Visitor Center
(Pocono Environmental Education Center)

This photo, taken from the south at dusk, shows the main activity area.
Photo credit: Nic Lehoux


  • Location: Dingmans Ferry, PA
  • Climate Region: 5A: Cool - Humid
  • Building type(s): Assembly
  • New construction
  • 7,750 ft2 (720 m2)
  • Project scope: a single building
  • Rural setting
  • Completed October 2005

The Pocono Environmental Education and Visitor Center is designed to reinforce the organization's mission of environmental stewardship and education.

The building is a flexible, multipurpose gathering space for dining, meetings, lectures, and other environmental learning activities. The building is designed to serve as a teaching tool for environmental education. Arriving at the site, visitors pass through a forest, cross a wetland, enter the building through an opening in the dark north wall, and cross through a bar of service spaces into the bright, daylit main room. The south-facing shed is designed to take full advantage of the warmth of the sun, cool mountain breezes, abundant natural light, and views of the forest.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2008. It was submitted by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

Through careful siting, materials selection, analysis, and design of building systems, the structure outwardly expresses the principles of green design. Because it serves as a teaching tool, the building makes many of its green building strategies apparent to visitors.

The north wall at the main entrance to the building is clad in shingles cut from reclaimed tires gathered from local sources where they had been discarded. Operable windows provide natural ventilation to the main activity space, encouraging occupants to think about their own comfort and the environmental impacts of heating and cooling. South-facing windows provide passive solar gain in the winter, lowering heating costs. Overall, the building was designed to be resource and energy efficient, both from a first-cost standpoint and from an operational one, due to the tight budgetary constraints of this small environmental center.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Pocono Environmental Education Center and National Park Service, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 8 people, 35 hours per person per week; and 250 visitors per week, 25 hours per visitor per week


Integrated team, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Wetlands, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Massing and orientation, Glazing, Passive solar, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Adaptable design, Durability, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/22/2008

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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