Chamber seeks top 'green' certification for new welcome center

Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce plans for a new welcome center include national certification for environmental design.

The chamber would seek the U.S. Green Building Council's highest rating, the LEED Platinum certification.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system designed to promote energy savings, water efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and waste production and environmental stewardship.

Only three commercial buildings in the state and 396 nationwide have achieved platinum certification, according to KRA Architecture and Design, which is designing the center.

"Environmental sustainability is incredibly important to Hilton Head, its character and its history, and we wanted to meet those goals," chamber controller Ray Deal said. "We want people to look at what it replaced and what can be done on this island to bring new functionality and environmental sustainability."

Chamber officials said they plan to incorporate solar panels, recycled materials, efficient heating and cooling designs, and cisterns and bioswales to collect, filter and reclaim stormwater runoff. Charging stations for electric vehicles also are proposed.