Birds and ornithologists alike have long favored Cley Marsh in Norfolk, England as a prime place to roost, but the windswept East Anglian wetland now has a new attraction. The Cley Marsh Visitor Center, owned by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and designed by LSI Architects, was recently named the best Sustainable Development by the prestigious Emirates Glass LEAF Awards which recognize excellence in international architecture, design, and building fields. Tucked neatly into the landscape and capped by a moss roof, the new visitor center stands as a unique example of how a combination of sustainable technologies can be used successfully in environmentally-sensitive locations.

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LSI was tasked with designing a new building that would accommodate hordes of visitors while minimize its environmental impact upon its delicate wetland surroundings. The cutting-edge, sustainable visitors center is completely off-the-grid and supremely energy-efficient, generating its own heat and power through the combined use of a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

Inspired by the local landscape and topography, a sedum moss roof runs in a gentle curve over a strip of frameless glazing, which allows un-interrupted views of to the nature reserve. Rainwater from the green roof is collected and recycled for use in ‘flushing the loos’. It’s estimated that the carbon footprint of the building is reduced by 80% compared to a building relying on non-renewable energy sources. Completed in 2007, the Cley Marsh Visitor Center is approximately 2,368 square feet (22o square meters) and cost about $1 million (650,000 GBP) to build.

+ LSI Architects