En­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion hub earns sus­tain­abil­ity honor

Ad­di­tion to Hard Bar­gain Farm re­ceives in­ter­na­tional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

The Mor­ris and Gwen­dolyn Cafritz Foun­da­tion En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter was cer­ti­fied as the green­est build­ing in Mary­land on Mon­day, com­plet­ing all re­quire­ments of the Liv­ing Build­ing Chal­lenge put forth by the In­ter­na­tional Liv­ing Fu­ture In­sti­tute (ILFI).

The Ac­co­keek cen­ter is just the 13th build­ing in the world to meet the cri­te­ria of the chal­lenge, which in­cludes op­er­at­ing for a full year at net-zero en­ergy and net-zero wa­ter use as well as be­ing

car­bon neu­tral and utiliz­ing con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als that are non-toxic and non-pol­lut­ing, among other qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Owned and op­er­ated by the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion (AFF), the Cafritz En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter is de­signed to en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of the thou­sands of lo­cal ele­men­tary school kids who jour­ney to Hard Bar­gain Farm ev­ery year. In ad­di­tion to par­tic­i­pat­ing in hands-on agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, stu­dents will now be able to ob­serve en­ergy-ef­fi­cient pro­cesses and study an ad­vanced eco­log­i­cal cur­ricu­lum.

“Our mis­sion is to con­nect peo­ple to na­ture, sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural prac­tices and the cul­tural her­itage of our lo­cal wa­ter­shed,” said Lori Ar­guelles, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the AFF. “Through­out the decades, our guid­ing prin­ci­ples have been ed­u­ca­tion, in­spi­ra­tion and in­no­va­tion, all three of which are ex­em­pli­fied in the build­ing we are here to cer­tify to­day.”

The struc­ture is lo­cated at the edge of an open field, tucked in be­tween the trees and sur­round­ing wet­lands. Its sprawl­ing roof, lined with so­lar pan­els, ex­tends to­ward the sky to wel­come the sun’s rays. Sta­dium seat­ing and a din­ing area sur­round the front and side of the build­ing, with an out­door fire­place wedged be­tween a stor­age wing and the multi-pur­pose area. With high-arch­ing ceil­ings and wood floor­ing made from downed trees around the site, the multi-pur­pose room pro­vides a wilder­ness set­ting without the con­se­quences of Mother Na­ture.

“The build­ing rep­re­sents a deep com­mit­ment by the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion and by the de­sign and con­struc­tion team and ev­ery­body in­volved in this project,” said Kath­leen Smith, vice pres­i­dent for the Liv­ing Build­ing Chal­lenge of the ILFI. “It’s a com­mit­ment in terms of the ef­fort in­volved in cre­at­ing a liv­ing build­ing, but it’s also a com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment and to peo­ple now and into the fu­ture.”

With the cre­ation and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the cen­ter, the AFF is set­ting an ex­am­ple in the re­gion as sus­tain­abil­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors play an in­creas­ing role in ar­chi­tec­ture. Lance Davis, pro­gram man­ager for De­sign Ex­cel­lence Ar­chi­tec­ture/ Sus­tain­abil­ity at U.S. Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion, ex­plained how the build­ing serves as a model for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and be­yond.

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to­ward net-zero en­ergy, wa­ter and waste for all of our new con­struc­tion,” Davis said. “Build­ings like this give us that op­por­tu­nity to bring some of those of­fi­cials out, to bring de­sign teams out and say, ‘Hey, yes, this is much smaller than what we have to do but it’s that start­ing point.’ You start from here and you con­tinue to build.”

The AFF is also plan­ning to re­place the 41-year-old Ware­ham Lodge in fa­vor of an overnight lodge com­plete with a sleep­ing and ac­tiv­ity space il­lu­mi­nated by sun­light. De­con­struc­tion of the cur­rent lodge will be­gin this fall, dur­ing which two new bunkhouses will serve as liv­ing quar­ters. Th­ese ex­tra spa­ces will be­come aux­il­iary housing once the new lodge is fin­ished, al­low­ing the farm to ac­com­mo­date more stu­dents.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

Lori Ar­guelles, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion, dis­cusses Mon­day the Cafritz En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter be­side a di­a­gram of the project.

Kath­leen Smith of the In­ter­na­tional Liv­ing Fu­ture In­sti­tute presents ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion Lori Ar­guelles with full cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the Cafritz En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter un­der the Liv­ing Build­ing Chal­lenge. From left: Steve Walz, Di­rec­tor of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­grams, Metropolitan Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments, Del­e­gate Susie Proc­tor, Smith, Ar­guelles, David Ian­nucci, As­sis­tant Deputy CAO for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture at Prince Ge­orge’s County, Bud Ware­ham, Vice Pres­i­dent of the AFF.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Alice Fer­gu­son Foun­da­tion Lori Ar­guelles ad­dresses the au­di­ence at the con­fer­ence to cer­tify the Cafritz En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter un­der the Liv­ing Build­ing Chal­lenge.

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