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Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center

Facility Overview

Official Name: Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center

Opened: September 2012

Size: 87,000 Square Feet (5 Stories)

Location: Within Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, Florida (8000 N. Ocean Drive,) at the entrance channel to Port Everglades

Awards: NSU’s Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center was awarded LEED® Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

The facility also won the Best Overall Project Award given by the Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA) Florida region. The 87,000-square foot research facility was chosen among other elite competitors, such as LEGOLAND Florida. The award was presented to NSU and its design/builder (Moss and Miller, LLC), and their design/build team, which included (Cannon Design, Acai Associates and Bliss & Nyitray, Inc.) during the 7th Annual Conference of the DBIA’s Florida Region.                                                                                    

Cost: $50 million – NSU received a $15 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce (using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) to build the center, while the university funded the rest of the project.

Facility Sustainability Features

The facility’s envelope (roof, walls and glazing,) illumination and space conditioning systems (water and landscaping) make the building “sustainable” by minimizing the amount of natural resources used to deliver the services to run the building. Energy costs and environmental impact are, therefore, reduced.

Roof System

The room systems are energy efficient with the use of a high-albedo roof coating with a solar reflectance index of 98. The roof color (white) was selected to minimize the “heat island effect,” greatly reducing the amount of the sun’s heat absorbed into the facility.

Window System

Multiple types of highly reflective, low E exterior glazing with a solar heat gain coefficient of .33 - .40 were selected to reduce heat gain in the variety of interior spaces. By reducing heat gain throughout the exterior glazing system, the building’s mechanical equipment size was reduced significantly therefore, saving energy costs.  

Wall System

The building is oriented east-west along its long axis, therefore minimizing exposure on the east and west ends of the facility. The south facing walls have reduced glass to wall ratios, which minimizes heat gain and makes the building envelope more efficient. The north facing walls have more glazing area to make use of natural day light. The exterior wall systems were designed to exceed the Florida Building Code standard for hurricane resistance. All exterior materials meet the Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance requirements.

The air conditioning system is energy efficient via the Building Automation System (BAS,) which controls its operation. The system is designed to provide maximum controllability of thermal comfort with individual thermostats for each area. The Thermal Energy Storage system reduces energy use and costs by providing chilled water to the mechanical system at night.

In order to preserve the potable drinking water, rainwater is collected from the roof and is stored in a 1,000 gallon tank in the mechanical room. This water is piped to the exterior of the building and is used to rinse off the SCUBA equipment when the researchers return from diving.

A key component of the facility is the seawater retrieval, purification and distribution system throughout the building and the exterior experimental area. Seawater is collected from two wells on site and then brought to holding tanks on the ground floor for processing. The seawater is run through multiple batch processing sequences to remove all harmful chemicals and compounds before distribution.

A dedicated piping system is used throughout the facility to ensure that the seawater does not get contaminated during use and processing. After it has been used, the seawater is discharged back into a well on site.

The lighting system throughout the facility takes advantage of occupancy sensors to control when lights are on, thus reducing energy use significantly. In addition, LED and TS lamps were used to reduce the lighting energy use of the facility below 1 watt per square foot.

This process uses natural daylight to illuminate offices and spaces by windows, minimizing the amount of lighting provided by electrically powered lighting systems. Daylight harvesting uses daylight sensors to automatically dim and brighten lights within each space, depending on the amount of outside light registered.

Solar Thermal Panels

The solar water heating system allows use of renewable energy to heat the water used throughout the facility and minimizes the use of electrical energy to heat water. This reduces the energy use for generating hat water by 25%.

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

A photovoltaic array located on site captures energy from the sun and introduces this power back into the power grid. This amount of energy captured is equivalent to the power required for the site lighting for sidewalks, driveways and parking lots – approximately 22.86 megawatts per year.

Low Flow Plumbing

Efficient water fixtures also add to the sustainability portfolio of the building by providing adequate water flow without waste. Fixtures include: 1.28 gallon per flush toilets; 0.125 gallon per flush urinals; and 1.5 gallons per cycle shower heads. These fixtures contribute to a 32% water use reduction.


Plant selections minimize the resource inputs in terms of water for irrigation with the use of native plants. Native and adaptive drought-tolerant and wind-resistant plants were selected for their ability to survive the costal ecosystem, reducing the need for supplemental watering and fertilization.


The irrigation system was designed for longevity and sustainability by integrating a low-flow drip line, efficient rotary heads and by leaving a portion of the site not irrigated. The weather-based controller, rain sensor and soil moisture sensor conserve water by monitoring actual local weather, the moisture present in the site soil and by adjusting the irrigation schedule to the plants’ specific watering needs. This system is designed to reduce potable water use for irrigation by nearly 70%.

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