The new Watershed Conservation Centre, soon to be one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building in the city, opened on Friday.

Located at the Fanshawe Conservation Area, the building replaces the former administration building, two portables and offices in the Fanshawe Dam that housed the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA).

It is also designed to be a facility accessible to the community, Jane McKelvie, chair of the UTRCA, said in a statement.

“It is our commitment that the true test of this building’s success will not be the longevity of its concrete and glass but, rather, the measureable improvement of the Thames watershed to support a thriving and healthy local community and economy.”

The building cost $12.3 million and is designed to maximize energy conservation and showcase environmental sustainability as well as handling the needs of staff and the community.

George Marr, chair of the Watershed Conservation Centre Building Committee, added in a statement “The premium paid for the building’s green features will be repaid in four to six years as a result of energy savings.”

Those features include a green roof, solar wall, earth tubes to naturally ventilate the inside of the building and more than 50 others.

Plans to build a new facility for the UTRCA were approved in 2007 and construction began in 2010. The next phase for the project is the removal of the old office buildings.

The official LEED certification by the Canada Green Building Council is expected by the end of the year.