On Tuesday, January 10, our cohort group traveled to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas located at 1700 University Drive in Fort Worth. BRIT is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1991. They opened their new, LEED Platinum, facility in February of 2011. The cost of the capital campaign was $70,000,000. The facility is one of eight LEED Platinum buildings in Texas at this time. It has a variety of sustainable features such as; solar panels, a living roof, bioswales in the parking lot to reduce storm water runoff (see ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/MT/www/technical/water/Bioswale.pdf for more information), wool carpet, pocket prairies, native Texas landscaping, water catchment, dual flush toilets, natural lighting, and geothermal units.
According to BRIT’s website, its mission is “to conserve our natural heritage by deepening our natural heritage by deepening our knowledge of the plant world and achieving public understanding of the value plants bring to life.” (See http://www.brit.org/about)
What I found most impressive about this tour is how the facility provides a tangible example of sustainability. It is an educational facility that is open to the public and features a wide variety of initiatives that citizens, institutions, and businesses can replicate. From a botanical perspective, BRIT’s research of plant species and especially their work with reintroduction of the Fort Worth Prairie Barrens and mid-grass prairies is so important for preserving our native ecosystems. With the increasing scarcity of water, native landscaping will be critical in minimizing water use for irrigation.
Education is key to BRIT and I’m happy to learn that they have a number of programs for children and professional development for teachers. The Teacher Resource Center has teaching guides, lesson plans and science kits that teachers can borrow for a small deposit and use in their classroom. BRIT also offers educational tours of the facility. Schools can visit for $8 per child. A tour of BRIT, combined with a tour of the Botanic Gardens, would be a wonderful field trip for any age of student and one that I will recommend at my school.
Data and photos from: http://www.brit.org