At a Glance

Integrated water strategies and ecological restoration opportunities form the foundation of a transformative social enterprise and industry innovation hub in the heart of Appalachia.

Project Description

The Industrial Commons, a nonprofit aiming to rebuild locally rooted wealth in Southern Appalachia, sought to transform a brownfield site that was once home to a furniture factory into a new kind of manufacturing hub. Envisioned as an employee-owned, democratic workplace that will equitably and sustainably invigorate an inclusive manufacturing community and economy, the "Innovation Campus" will include a 40,000 sq ft Commons Building to house offices and youth programming, a 34,000 sq ft manufacturing incubator including daycare facilities and a cafe, and over 145,000 sq ft of flex manufacturing space.

As part of an integrated design team led by Mithun, Biohabitats designed integrated water infrastructure to support the project's pursuit of the "Water" petal and ecological uplift components to support the "Ecology of Place" petal of the Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) certification, the world's most stringent sustainability standard.

Biohabitats developed a high-level integrated water infrastructure plan addressing the rigorous performance criteria and imperatives of the LBC Water petal, including requirements that projects be Net Positive Water and that they harvest, treat and reuse water to the extent possible. Biohabitats then collaborated with the design team to refine integrated water strategies to advance the anticipated Phase 1 Buildings, surrounding site, and enabling infrastructure. After analyzing existing data and performing an ecological assessment of the site, Biohabitats also provided the client and design team with a deeper understanding of the site's existing ecology and the opportunities to protect and enhance wild and ecologically significant systems present on the property.



Southeast Atlantic

Expertise Areas

Climate Change, Ecological Restoration, Water


The Industrial Commons


Morganton, North Carolina, United States

Project Team
  • Mithun
  • Nelson Byrd Woltz
  • Stantec
  • Integrated Eco Strategy
  • PAE Engineers
  • Fast+Epp