Parris Island Child Development Center

Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, South Carolina

The Child Development Center in Parris Island, South Carolina, is the Marine Corps Base Recruit Depot’s first facility that can achieve Net Zero Energy (NZE). The design-build team of Sauer Inc. (construction management), VOA Associates Inc. (architecture), Van Wagen and Beavers Inc. (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), and KCI Technologies Inc. (then RLB Engineers – geothermal) incorporated a host of measures focused on sustainability and conservation, resulting in a U.S. Green Building Council LEED gold certification.

Key NZE features include more than 1,100 photovoltaic panels that together are capable of producing 387,581 kWh per year as well as hydronic heating and cooling via a variable flow geothermal closed loop system.

KCI designed the geothermal loop field (Earth Heat Exchanger), including vertical bores and horizontal piping outside the building to terminate within a designated pump room inside the building, including a piping vault. Karst formations, or subterranean caverns, were encountered while drilling to install the required 250-foot-deep well loops that make up the building’s geothermal system. Adjustments to account for the voids, which ranged in height from two to 40 feet, included moving and adding additional boreholes.


To capitalize on the renewable energy generation capabilities, efficiency was built in to many aspects of the facility, including the building envelope which maximizes the advantages associated with heat sink effect while at the same time reflects solar heat back into the atmosphere; as well as conservation-minded product choices including high efficiency electric appliances, LED lighting and water saving plumbing fixtures. Designers also considered sustainability when choosing products that contain high percentages of recycled content as well as materials that were manufactured locally and regionally.

Each of these design components works together to allow the 25,775-square-foot building to create all of the energy it needs to serve its staff of 65 and the approximately 250 children that they care for. In addition, the facility plays a role in achieving the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) 2030 goal of achieving energy independence in all of its buildings as well as the U.S. Navy 2020 mandate that 50 percent of energy requirements be met using renewable resources.