Friday, April 25, 2008

The Greening of Shangri-La

Shangri-La in Orange, Texas circa 1950
Inspired by the mystical retreat in the book Lost Horizon, H.J. Lutcher Stark sought to create his own haven of indescribable beauty where time would stand still. Blighted by a freak ice storm and destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Shangri-La still exists today.
Shangri-La Gardens and Nature Center

Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, Texas was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council's Platinum Certification for LEED®-New Construction. This is the first such award in Texas, one of only 50 such awards worldwide.

LEED Building Rating System

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ recognizes construction techniques that provide sustainability in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Architecture and Energy Efficiency

  • The architecture and the efficiency of equipment and lighting at Shangri-La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center reduce energy costs by 70 percent.

  • All buildings on site are oriented for passive solar heating and cooling.

  • Green construction techniques of the buildings include window placement with optimized overhangs and soybean based spray foam insulation in walls and ceilings.

  • The roof top rainwater collection system provides water for toilets and the irrigation system of the Orientation Center.

  • Shangri-La has a closed-loop, geothermal heating and cooling system, which uses the Earth as a giant insulator.

Recycle and Reclamation

The Earth-friendly development of Shangri-La used reclaimed brick 100 years old.

The ChoiceDek® boardwalks throughout Shangri-La used the equivalent plastic of 1.1 million milk jugs or 3.6 million plastic bags.

During construction, approximately 80 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfill.

Sunken cypress trees were salvaged from rivers in Louisiana and used for siding, walls, fencing and gates.

The parking lot was built using reclaimed asphalt.

Reforestation and Restoration

Removal of invasive species and reintroduction of native plants and trees.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, more than 15,000 Long leaf Yellow Pines were planted.


Almost one-half of all building materials were acquired from within a 500-mile radius of project site, thus reducing transportation costs and supporting the local economy.


The Orientation Center includes exhibit hall, theater, classroom/greenhouse and water demonstration garden that shows how plants filter pollution from water.


The Botanical Gardens feature more than 300 species of plants, including 41 varieties of azaleas. There are five artistic rooms and four sculpture gardens. The garden around the reflection pool, Pond of the Blue Moon, pays tribute to the original Shangri-La.

Nature Center

While in the Nature Center, visitors can view thousands of birds nesting in Ruby Lake or view the 1,200 year-old pond cypress tree. Eventually more interpretation will uncover all the wonder of the cypress/tupelo swamp.


Anonymous said...

Great subject. I am glad i found your blog. Would you mind sometime maybe adding an
article to my website so that others may read this too? I think that my visitors would really enjoy the stuff i found here. Thanks and I will visit often.

Greentac said...

So glad to see your blog which is writing about the environment. My blog is writing about environment too. Not all about it, but I will try to focus on it.

Trond said...

I really liked the pictures. I'm very interested in going visit that place sometimes.

Decor Galore said...

This is the future of architecture. Building in such a way that all energy and resources do double duty, thus creating the most efficient design possible. I have to applaud this wonderful endeavor


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