Md. Education Center Becomes 13th Project in the World to Achieve Full Living Building Challenge Certification

Artist's Conceptual Drawing of the Alice Ferguson Foundation's (AFF) environmental education center.
Artist's Conceptual Drawing of the Alice Ferguson Foundation's (AFF) environmental education center.

ACCOKEEK, Md. (August 01, 2017)—The Alice Ferguson Foundation's (AFF) environmental education center received full Living Building Challenge™ certification in early June, making it the greenest, most energy efficient building in Maryland. As just the 13th project in the world to achieve this elite certification, AFF's Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center has successfully achieved what is widely regarded as the world's most rigorous green building performance standard. Thousands of students from around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area use the Cafritz Environmental Center each year as part of a world-class hands-on science and environmental curriculum.

"The work of the Foundation helps enhance and support the classroom instruction our kids receive and the result is clear: well-rounded and better educated students," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, who spoke at the building's certification ceremony. "I am proud that Prince George's County has supported the Foundation in the Living Building Challenge, contributing $3.9 million through our capital budget. We see the clear benefits that a state-of-the-art learning center will bring-not only to our students but also to our growing reputation as a mecca for green buildings, green businesses and green technology."

The building produces more energy than it uses in a year and also collects and treats water on site. It is constructed using non-toxic materials; more than two-thirds of which were manufactured within 500 miles of the site. The building uses geothermal and solar energy for heating and cooling, treats wastewater and stormwater on site and reuses greywater for landscape irrigation. Through this technology and engineering, the campus will reduce 120 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually—the equivalent of removing more than 25 cars from the road, according to EPA statistics.

"At a time when local and regional actions to combat climate change are more important than ever, we are so proud to receive this world-renowned certification,"said Lori Arguelles, Alice Ferguson Foundation Executive Director. "This structure is the first of two planned green buildings to be constructed on our environmental campus and a model of what can be done, right here in Prince George's County, when technology and innovation come together to create positive environmental impact, local jobs, and a space to teach and inspire our children."

To qualify for full certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the Center proved that it operated at net-zero energy and net-zero water use for a full year, was carbon neutral, used construction materials that are non-toxic and non-polluting and met a number of other environmental and social criteria. Achieving this set of standards makes Cafritz Environmental Center a national and international model for green building techniques, sustainable materials, energy efficiency and water use.

Kathleen Smith, International Living Future Institute Vice President, Living Building Challenge, presented AFF with the prestigious certification award. "Living Buildings are changing the face of construction for the future, and this Center is leading the way at a critical time," said Smith. "Organizations like the Alice Ferguson Foundation that dare to reach new heights are the key to generating green jobs, inspiring future environmental stewards, reversing our carbon footprint and creating a truly sustainable future."

Support for the project has come from the state of Maryland, Prince George's County, individual donors and many private and nonprofit organizations, including the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Unilever, Old Line Bank, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Philip L. Graham Fund, James Hardie/Hardiplank, Kresge Foundation, the Veverka Family Foundation and the Solar Schools Foundation.

"The Cafritz Foundation is committed to building a stronger community for residents of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and this Center is at the heart of how we strive to improve lives," said Calvin Cafritz, President and CEO of the foundation. "We are honored to contribute to this project, a game-changing teaching tool for our kids and a testament to the power of using innovation and green technology to create jobs, while protecting our planet."

Consilience LLC led the project development, Re:Vision Architecture led the project design and Facchina Construction Company served as the general contractor.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices, and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship, and advocacy. The Foundation was established in 1954 as a non-profit organization chartered in the state of Maryland. The Alice Ferguson Foundation's educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

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