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National Great Rivers Research and Education Center Field Station

National Great Rivers Center 2

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and Field Station

Location: Alton, Illinois, United States

Project owner: Lewis and Clark Community College; University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign; Illinois Natural History Survey

Project type: Drinking Water and Wastewater

Project description: 
The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and Field Station is a two-phase construction project tracking for LEED Gold or Platinum certification. The 32,000-square-foot center is strategically located near the confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers. Its Jerry F. Costello Confluence Field Station serves as an international center for science, education, and public outreach with a goal to improve the sustainable management of large rivers.

How it satisfies the "triple bottom line" approach (economic environmental, social), including innovative aspects:
Economic: The environmental and reuse features incorporated into the project will save resources and minimize expense including that for domestic water, centralized wastewater treatment, and energy consumption.
Environmental:  Design Challenges – The major challenge for the design team was taking innovative technologies and applying them to the building in a way that all worked congruently to achieve a highly functional structure. The project is located within a flood levee on federal property, which added difficulty to the permitting and construction process. The CCFS features use of solar power, water recycling systems, permeable pavers, and native plantings. Phase II will feature an in-river pump capable of delivering 1.8 million gallons of water daily to provide continuous river water flow through the mesocosms (large concrete channels containing water and plankton to be used as artificial environments for experiments).
Construction Advances – The project, designed by AAIC, includes numerous technologies that are new to the construction industry. The living green roof and the outdoor rooftop classroom provide an energy efficient structure with the capability of educating the public on green roof construction and the sustainability issues relevant to this geographical area. The water efficiency innovations minimize the use of domestic water on site through a natural system for on-site sewage treatment and reuse and the reuse of rainwater captured on site. The natural wastewater treatment system also allows for water features to be incorporated into the new building and fits well given the unique ecosystem that is created by the confluence of the three rivers at the site and the organic building design.
Social: Public Education – The CCFS Center construction process, and the building itself is a symbol of innovation in design and construction utilizing green technologies and will be used to educate the public on the importance of environmentally friendly applications through construction. It is also a state of the art research center that will provide a platform to educate the next generation on sustainable management of the environment.

Categories of innovation: Water resources and environment

Additional resources for information:
Wastewater treatment system: Dennis Hallahan, Infiltrator Systems Inc, 800-221-4436;
Overall project: Lori Artis, Media and Foundation Relations, Lewis and Clark Community College, 618-468-3200;
Architecture and design info: AAIC Inc., 618-345-1270
Official website:

For more about this project: Dennis Hallahan, Technical Director and project designer
Infiltrator Systems Inc.

Submitted by: Dennis Hallahan

Date submitted: June 13, 2012

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