Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s HQ Building: Still Green
The headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Maryland is the only building to have earned a Platinum rating from the US Green Building Council's LEED Rating System.
Oh wait, I wrote that in 2001, when the Philip Merrill Environmental Center was in fact, the greenest building in America. I fell in love then and I still am even though, at 10, she's an old lady in green building years.
A recent article in The Washington Post, celebrates the Merrill Center as still cutting edge. I agree. Almost every element of the building has an environmental strategy behind it. Some of its key (and cool) green design features would be enviable today.
The heating and cooling systems do not run 33 percent of the year relying on solar gain in the winter and natural ventilation during warmer months. Oriented on its site to capture the Bay's predominate breezes, sensors determine when outdoor conditions are optimal, the mechanical systems shut down and flashing signs alert the occupants to open the windows. Additionally one-third of the Center's energy comes from its 300-foot deep geo-thermal wells.
The three 20,000-gallon rainwater cisterns gracing the approach side of the building, 12 feet in diameter, are a striking focal element and provide water for all non-potable uses including fire suppression, hand washing, mop sinks, laundry, irrigation and the like. The collection, treatment and reuse of rainwater has lowered the per person water usage by 90% from that of a standard office building.
Another water-saving strategy is the waterless and non-flushing, composting toilets that convert solid waste to top-quality compost. Properly designed and installed they are virtually odorless. Yeah, somebody has to rake the "collection".
Throughout the building materials were selected for their cradle-to-cradle life cycle including parallel-strand lumber, bamboo, linoleum and cork flooring, steel siding and unpainted MDF. Champagne corks being used as cabinet door pulls, cubicle signage made from the tops of crab baskets found along beaches as driftwood, and window louvers made from 100 yr old pickle barrels from an old Eastern Shore facility add to the serious environmental yet playful ambience.
Equally impressive are the economic numbers that 10 years of operations have yielded: $100,000 annual energy savings and $8,000 water savings. Read more here about the savings of building green.
Happy birthday, Merrill Center. Blow out the candles and stand proud.