Pick any neighborhood in any town and you are sure to see a trend in housing styles from one home to the next. The style could have been influenced by the year the neighborhood was built, a certain architect, availability of materials common to the area, or any number of influential factors.
With eco-friendly construction and alternative material resources finally becoming mainstream, it’s probably safe to say that the latest housing trend is green homes. Fortunately, designers, builders, and contractors have some pretty incredible examples to follow when it comes to green buildings, so it’s likely new green homes will be somewhat reminiscent of existing facilities that are not just part of the green trend, but trendsetters.
The Merrill Center | Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Headquarters
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF’s) Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Maryland, was designed, constructed and is now operated to reflect CBF’s mission to protect and restore the Bay. All building materials are made of recycled materials or created through processes that don't damage the environment and one third of the building’s energy comes from renewable resources. The Merrill Center opened in 2001 and was the first building to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's Platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
The advantage that the Merrill Center shares with homes built to greener standards is that they reduce pollution, mitigate environmental impact, and allow operators to save money on expenses. The Merrill Center is an example in energy efficiency, high performance, and water conservation, and the techniques they use to achieve these results in their workplace can easily be translated to green home practices.
With the Merrill Center as an ideal example of how to incorporate natural elements into a fully functioning, yet comfortable and aesthetically pleasing workplace or home, inhabitants can choose from many basic components available for new green builds.
One green design detail that resonates of pure common sense is that the energy producing wall of the building faces south allowing its photo-voltaic solar panels to receive maximum exposure to produce light and warmth while the position also takes advantage of prevailing winds for natural ventilation of the building. The open arrangement of the layout allows natural light to illuminate the entire building significantly decreasing the reliance on energy consuming lights.
Beyond these common sense green building practices, the Merrill Center integrates renewable resources and efficient materials into every component from foam-cored insulation to rooftop cisterns to composting toilets to cork and bamboo flooring and a bioretention stormwater treatment system.
Like so many CBF facilities the Merrill Center maximizes its use of eco-friendly operations, many of them regulated by the USGBC, throughout the building that other green builders will be able to use as an example for years to come.