04 APRIL 2014

LEED Platinum-Seeking Burnett Bayland Gym Breaks Ground


New Gym Boasts Sustainable, Healthy Design as First LEED Platinum Building in Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS — Harris County’s Burnett Bayland Gym recently broke ground and is the first LEED Platinum-seeking public building in Houston. The gym is part of a juvenile rehabilitation center for kids ages 12-17 and boasts numerous sustainable elements designed to improve the quality of life for troubled youth. The 13,500-sf facility houses a multi-purpose gymnasium, locker room, reception area for visitors, kitchen, public bathrooms, classrooms and a library. The space will also have a back up generator to serve the community if a natural disaster occurs.

Kirksey, along with Harris County, envisioned the new gym as a place of safety, health, and well being to create a fresh start for the residents of the juvenile reception center. The building was designed for the highest standard of indoor air quality, including improved ventilation and reduction or elimination of materials that off-gas harmful chemicals. The building's construction process also reflects this intent by following stringent procedures to minimize the introduction of pollutants into the space and by conducting a flush-out of the building prior to occupancy. These measures will improve occupant health in a range of ways, from reducing allergic reactions and eye, nose, and throat irritation to mitigating the risk of future cancers.

The building is also designed to provide a high degree of contact with natural daylight and interaction with nature and the outdoors. The building's skylights and strategically placed windows allow exposure to daylight to help regulate circadian rhythms and balance hormonal levels of serotonin, which are especially important to youths in that they affect mood, sleep, learning, and social behavior. Exposure to nature through quality views to the outside and through physical contact with the outdoors has been proven through countless studies to be beneficial to both mental and physical health. Studies have shown that interaction with nature lowers stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as reducing anxiety and improving cognitive function. The site's xeriscaping, community garden, and outdoor classroom ensure a link to greenery as well as native fauna such as birds and butterflies, providing the youths with a powerful connection to nature.

Through both its design and its function, the new building promotes healthy lifestyle choices related to both physical fitness and healthy foods. Residents will participate in team sports both inside and outside of the building as well as weight-lifting inside. Exercise provides a host of benefits, including reduced risk of many diseases, improved mood, higher self-esteem, better memory, and greater capacity for learning. Team sports help to develop and maintain healthy relationships between youths. Reception center residents will also benefit from cultivating and learning about healthy food in the communal garden.

Below are a few relevant sustainability metrics:
- The building saves 44% more energy than a code compliant building

- The building saves 57% of its water

- 100% of the stormwater is treated on-site

- The building achieved every water point available in the LEED system


About Kirksey

Kirksey is a Houston-based, sustainable architecture and interior design firm with more than 29 million sf of LEED® projects in their portfolio. Team-based in structure, Kirksey serves Commercial, Collegiate, Community, pK-12, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Religious, Science & Technology, and Multi-Family Residential markets. For more information, visit www.kirksey.com.