Serving as a freshwater field station for scientists and students alike, the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute’s 14,000 square foot facility offers fully-equipped lab space in which researchers can physically work in proximity to each other to advance conservation science.
TNACI’s existing work in the captive propagation of sensitive species, including Lake Sturgeon and Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, are now housed in the new facility. Artificial streams, where researchers can study the influence of human effects on the environment, like changing temperatures in streams, are also located in the propagation space which includes space to accommodate expanding efforts.
A large teaching lab on the first floor is used for educational programs designed for high school students, teachers, conservation professionals, ecotourism guides, and Aquarium members. This space features technology to conduct scientific research on advanced topics like analyzing environmental DNA from the Tennessee River to investigate which fish species have been swimming nearby. High-speed internet connectivity allows the live streaming of our educational programs, widening the reach beyond the audiences that may not be able to physically visit our facility.
The new facility is LEED-certified, employing many of the best practices for conservation-minded design. The water-sensitive design includes the expansion of existing wetlands adjacent on the site, landscaping with native plants found in the Tennessee River Gorge, and gathering rainwater from the roof in a 6,000 gallon cistern to supply grey water for reuse in the building. A dashboard system for accurate monitoring of water and energy use allows the building to tell its own story to teach and inspire future stewards of our environment.