BRIT's New “Green” Building Goes Wild About Plants

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas' new home lets the public explore plants in a whole new way.

BRIT's new building next to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden houses most of the world's plant species and much more.

North Texans celebrating the facility's grand opening Saturday, complete with a ribbon cutting and building tours. The 70,000-square-foot building on a 5.2-acre campus is officially open.

"I still pinch myself. I can't believe it's actually happened," said director and president S.H. Sohmer. "The more buildings that are built this way, the less problems we're going to have in the future in the use of energy."

Sohmer said the building will likely receive Tarrant County's first LEED platinum rating for energy efficiency, from the rainwater retention pond to the solar energy system that powers 14 percent of the building.

From a touch screen inside the exhibit room, visitors can pull up a live camera feed of the "living roof" and learn about the rooftop plants that insulate the building. Scientists will have more space and tools to continue discovering unknown plant species.

Most of the world's 350,000 plant species are housed in the herbarium, where you'll find an entire wall of extinct plants among more than a million plant specimens. BRIT's oldest specimen dates back to 1791.

The library has books dating back to the 1500s, with just about anything on plants.

"So we love having the public in here and explaining what we're doing and how these can be used, not just for science but also for education and outreach to just introduce people to the diversity of plants, the need to conserve them, the need to appreciate them, and the value they bring to our life," said Amanda Neill, director of the herbarium.

It's free to tour the BRIT building. The facilities are also open to school groups who want to take hands-on field trips.

NBC 5 sponsored the event, which was emceed by Jane McGarry.

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