Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED) consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of High Performance Green Buildings, Homes and Neighborhoods. 


Sustainable designs aim to produce places, products and services in a way that improves energy efficiency, reduces use of non-renewable resources and minimizes environmental impacts.


Daylighting: The main building areas were designed to allow for the maximized use of natural light during the day.

Domestic Solar Hot Water: The three solar panels visible above the main entrance preheat the hot water for the restrooms.

Photovoltaic Panels:  Fourteen PV panels are located above the entrance walkway. The panels convert solar energy into DC electricity. The DC electricity is then converted to AC power, which is used on site.

Rainwater Catchment: Rainwater is collected rom the roof and piped to a 26,000 gallon cistern. There is is treated with chlorine and used to flush the toilets and urinals. Calculations show that with normal Wilkes County rainfall 309,000 gallons of rain will be harvested annually.

Geothermal Heat Pump: Thirteen geothermal wells are part of the system that heats and cools the building. Each well is 300 feet deep. They are part of a closed loop system that water flows through and is either heated or cooled by the constant temperature of the ground. When it returns to the surface, the water passes through the heat exchanger and heats or cools the building. Sensors monitor the total energy generated.

Energy Efficient Shell:  The building's shell was designed to allow a great deal of insulation to be placed in the exterior walls and roof. The roof is a smooth, Energy Star-rated membrance that looks like standing seam metal and is lightly colored to reduce heat gain during hotter weather. This membrane also allows for more efficient collection of rainwater. 

Green Building Materials: Materials with recycled content were used on this project, including carpeting, ceiling tiles, countertops, concrete, masonry, guardrail and asphalt. Materials manufactured or produced from within 500 miles of the siter were used as a critical LEED element. Half of the wood used on the project is certified with the Forest Stewardship Council, meaning it was harvested from certified renewable forests.

Bio-Retention Basin and Hazardous Spill Basin: The facility was designed for sustainable stormwater management. Rainfall run off is directed to a bio-retention basin, which absorbs and removes pollutants from the water as it comes in contact with soil particles and plant roots. The hazardous spill basin captures accidental spills such as major fuel and oil leaks.

Indoor Air Quality: The products used inside the facility have low or no pollutants. No smoking is allowed inside the building.

Recycling Systems and Waste Management: The goal for the project was to divert at least half of the construction waste from the landfill.*  All stumps were ground into mulch, and small trees were chipped for use on the walking trail.

*Crews actually recycled 90% of the waste generated which includes metal branding, cardboard, concrete and wood lumber. 






U.S. Green Building Council (LEED informaiton):


Real time dashboard of green technology systems at NWNC Rest Area & Visitor Center



The Northwest NC Visitor Center was built by the NC Department of Transportation


Managed by the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce

717 Main Street

 North Wilkesboro, NC 28659










Donna Wood, Travel Specialist

Ella Rhodes, Visitor Center Volunteer Coordinator

Stacy McNeil, Travel Specialist

Treva Frazier, Travel Specialist

William Rhodes, Visitor Center Volunteer Coordinator