Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center - Net Positive Energy & Living Building Certified (Accokeek, MD)

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center in Accokeek, MD is run by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, with a goal of providing environmental educational programs for elementary and middle school students. The programs focus on stewardship of the natural resources in the Potomac River watershed and the legacy of farming in southern Maryland. As part of the efforts to teach the students the importance of sustainability and living in balance with nature, the project pursue and achieved Living Building Certification as verified by the Living Future Institute. This achievement makes the Environmental Center the 13th building in the world to achieve this certification. In addition to the Living Building Certification, this project also achieved LEED®-NC Platinum Certification

The Living Building Challenge is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. Buildings are judged and certified according to their impact on habitat, water, energy, health/happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. AKF worked tirelessly to help design, document, and demonstrate compliance with the certification process with a particular focus on challenges including net zero water, net zero energy, indoor air quality, and ensuring that all building systems products installed in the building did not contain any of the banned red list of toxic substances.

AKF’s systems design included a geothermal well field, demand control ventilation, composting toilets, low flow water fixtures, solar thermal water heating, plug load management, energy metering, and photovoltaic panels. The building achieved net positive energy in its first year of operation, harvesting over 113% of its annual energy needs using on-site photovoltaic panels. The building HVAC system is connected to a geothermal well field. The building also utilizes composting toilets and low-flow fixtures to limit water use and waste generation. All waste water is treated on site utilizing constructed wet lands.

Additionally the AKF team helped to track energy performance through out the 1 year net zero energy verification process and worked with the owner to make adjustments to ensure the project would achieve this goal.

To learn more information about this project, please review the International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge Case Study.

Project Expertise

Aaron Dahlstrom Headshot
Aaron Dahlstrom, PE
Shannon Kaplan
Shannon Kaplan, PE
Sean Sonnabend
Sean Sonnabend, PE
Brendan McGrath Headshot
Brendan McGrath, PE
Gabe Pescosolido
Gabriel Pescosolido

Technical Statistics

OWNER: Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
PROJECT NAME: Environmental Center, Net Positive Energy & Living Building Certified
PROJECT SIZE: 3,900 SF
INDUSTRIES: Arts & Culture
CERTIFICATIONS: LEED® NC 2009 Platinum, Living Building Challenge Certified
Cafritz Environmental Center