Green Awards

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lumina News file photos 

Live Oak Bank’s new headquarters, designed by architectural firm LS3P, received the Outstanding Stewardship Award, the top honor given at the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Awards luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 19. 

Local business leaders, developers, government officials and environmental advocates gathered in Wilmington for an annual awards ceremony to honor low-impact, environmentally sound development practices, exemplified by the 2014 winners of the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Awards.

Live Oak Bank’s new headquarters received the top honors, the Outstanding Stewardship Award, during the Feb. 19 award luncheon, with New Hanover County’s planning and zoning manager Shawn Ralston praising Wilmington-based architectural firm LS3P for designing the office around the existing natural environment.

“[Live Oak Bank CEO] Chip Mahan was determined to create a superior work environment for his employees, and he challenged LS3P’s Chris Boney to preserve the longleaf pines [and] live oaks,” Ralston said. “He actually just stumbled upon it when he was running after his dog one day and said, ‘You know what, this is going to be a great location for my new headquarters.’”

Located near the intersection of Shipyard and Independence boulevards, the bank’s new 36,500 square-foot office boasts cypress siding allowing the building to blend in with the surrounding environment, passive solar design for efficient heating and cooling and a bridge and walkway around the campus’ stormwater pond.

Mahan also had architects include a dog park in the design, encouraging employees to bring their dogs to work.

The luncheon and awards ceremony was the third annual event held by the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Coalition, which encourages builders to consider the local environmental impacts of their work.

The coalition comprises agencies from a range of development interests focused on promoting sustainable, low-impact techniques for designing, building and maintaining the built environment in the Cape Fear region. Its membership includes New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance and the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association, among other government and nonprofit agencies.

Piney Ridge Nature Preserve, a 39-acre tract owned by Oleander Company and managed by the City of Wilmington and the Coastal Land Trust, was one of three recipients of the next-highest honor, the Significant Achievement Award. 

The Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden is the centerpiece of the reserve, which Ralston said is home to the only naturalized site in the state with so much diversity of native carnivorous plant species.

“We feel this is a great example of stewardship, emphasizing the natural beauty of this site by showcasing the native carnivorous plants,” she said.

Julie Rehder, who received the award, said while the garden bears her late father’s name, it is a treasure for all to share.

“This was something that is everyone’s garden, everyone’s responsibility,” Rehder said. “The City of Wilmington, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, the designers and everyone that put their time into it will make sure that this place is there for a very long time. … If we can keep the poachers out.”

She also acknowledged North Carolina state Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, and supported his plans to propose a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly that would make poaching venus fly traps a felony in New Hanover County.

Beyond the carnivorous plants, the preserve, located in the headwaters of Hewletts Creek, pays particular attention to mimicking the natural hydrology of the site. Low-impact development methods include permeable walkways and parking lots, slatted wooden decking to allow infiltration, minimal site grading and little clearing of existing vegetation.

Pam Fasse, owner of Fasse Construction & Development, also received a Significant Achievement Award for her company’s Tonbo Meadow project, which will occupy 3.19 acres along Greenville Loop Road near Bradley Creek Elementary School.

The development’s footprint is minimal because of its clustered houses, preserved stormwater wetlands and buildings kept out of the existing drainage paths.

“We spent 10 years working on this project … and the first building is now up,” Fasse said. “We’re just very pleased with the progress and all the city’s help and efforts to try to make this happen. It was really a long shot.”

Ralston added it received high marks for other low-impact practices, such as bioswales, natural surface pathways, buildings oriented for passive solar and natural fiber carpeting. She added the homeowners’ association has been established under a restrictive charter to require maintenance of those features throughout time.

The last Significant Achievement Award went to Jim Pryor, Brunswick County director of parks and recreation, for his work completing phase one at the new Brunswick Nature Park.

It occupies 911 acres of land near Winnabow and borders Town Creek. While the land was previously a loblolly pine plantation, Ralston explained Pryor previously implemented a forest management plan that will restore the native longleaf pine population.

The park hosts picnic areas, four miles of hiking trails, five miles of biking trails, a canoe and kayak launch and a solar-powered restroom facility. Pryor said he was proud to receive the award, and admitted it was not always easy finding harmony among competing uses and residents’ visions for the park.

“Stewardship is hard work.” Pryor said. “I have a gentleman in Brunswick County that thinks every park should include nothing but baseball fields. … You have people with very different interests and different mindsets.”


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