BEAUFORT, N.C. – The Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., has been awarded the Gold LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The 5,600-square-foot Repass Center, which was dedicated in November 2006, uses geothermal pumps for heating and cooling, solar panels for hot water, and photovoltaic rooftop panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Local building materials, such as yellow southern pine and Atlantic white cedar, and recycled wood are used throughout the structure.

Other eco-friendly features include natural daylight in all spaces, fresh-air ventilation, deep overhangs to provide shade, native landscape and permeable sidewalks, and a zinc roof designed to last 100 years.

The center houses a teaching laboratory, a 48-seat lecture hall equipped with advanced teleconferencing and videoconferencing facilities to connect to other classrooms and research labs worldwide, and a large, glass-enclosed commons area containing art and sculpture, with views of the Rachel Carson Research Reserve, Beaufort Inlet and Shackleford Banks.

A $2.3 million gift from Randy Repass, chairman of West Marine Inc. of Watsonville, Calif., and his wife, Sally-Christine Rodgers, helped fund the center and create a University Professorship in Marine Conservation Technology at the Marine Lab. The center is named in honor of Repass’ mother.

The center was designed by Raleigh architect Frank Harmon to meet the highest standards for energy and environmental efficiency adopted by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. A grant from the Wallace Genetic Foundation made it possible to design the Repass Center to LEED certification standards.