Shangri La Botanical Garden and Nature Centers building complex is a certified Platinum LEED building by the United States Green Building Council. Green features include:
- The Restricted Parking Lot is recycled asphalt from Green Avenue and Simmons Drive Orange.
- Bike racks are available to encourage visitors and employees to bike to Shangri La.
- Metal cisterns collect rainwater to irrigate the courtyard area and flush the toilets.
- Thirty six solar panels at Shangri La produce 300 watts of electricity. When the sun shines the panels produce 40% of the electricity required to run the orientation center buildings. Energy is also purchased from green sources – wind power plants in west Texas.
A geothermal well system provides the heat sink for the heating and cooling units. 34 closed loop wells are utilized along with one 700′ deep well. This allows Shangri La to take advantage of the consistent temperatures deep within the earth (approximately 75 degree temperature).
- The metal roofing reflect heat which allows for more than 50% reduction in energy usage.
- Each waterless urinal saves 45, 000 gallons annually.
- Floor coverings are made from easily renewable materials such as corn. The corn based carpet is laid in two foot squares so small areas may be replaced as necessary.
- Sinker cypress was used in some areas.
- Large building windows allow daylight to flow into the office.
- Fallen trees from Hurricane Rita were incorporated into the construction. Large cypress trees felled by the storm were milled on site using mobil milling equipment to reat benches, a boardwalk in the Pond of the Blue Moon and a rustic folly.
- Concrete foundations are 40% fly ash, a mineral resulting from the combustion of coal which is usually burned off into the atmosphere. This reduces the amount of cement used and reuses fly ash that would otherwise go to landfill.
- The plastic walkways throughout Shangri La look like wooden boards. They are made from recycled plastic and recycled wood. The amount of plastic recycled for this job equals 1.1 million milk jugs or 3.6 million plastic bags. It’s 50% plastic and 50% wood fibers.
- Soy-bean based insulation is used in the walls and ceilings throughout the buildings.
- Bricks at Shangri La were salvaged from an old warehouse built in Arkansas in 1910.
- Organic products and beneficial insects are used instead of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.