Philip Merrill Environmental Center Tour

Use our interactive maps to explore the Philip Merrill Environmental Center's energy-efficient and environmentally friendly design.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDETake the outside tour

Open office plan Natural light - south Natural light - north Conference center Water conservation Natural ventilation Natural ventilation Efficient building materials Recycled materials Recycled materials Recycled materials Renewable materials Renewable materials Renewable materials Renewable materials Natural materials Kitchen
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OPEN OFFICE PLAN

An open office layout allows natural daylight to flood the interior and natural ventilation to move more freely through the building. This both minimizes the need for costly artificial lighting and makes what artificial lighting there is more uniform and efficient and provides more effective and efficient heating and cooling. READ MORE

Photo credit: Dave Hartcorn

Replacing walled offices with individual workstations reduced the size of the building while still allowing space for communal amenities (meeting rooms, copy/fax/printing areas, a staff kitchen, and dining area).

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NATURAL LIGHT - SOUTH

Natural daylight from the long southern window wall illuminates the entire building, substantially lessening what is usually an office's most expensive energy cost. READ MORE

Photo credit: CBF Staff

A day lighting control system uses light level sensors and dim artificial lighting to achieve the most desirable lighting level. The selection of light-colored and reflective interior finishes also increase the effects of day lighting.

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NATURAL LIGHT - NORTH

Dormers and a continuous clerestory window with smaller window areas add light from the north facade.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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CONFERENCE FACILITIES

Conference facilities that are used during off-hours and weekends are separated from the main building, which allows independent access and mechanical systems operation.

Photo credit: CBF Staff

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WATER CONSERVATION

Cistern water is used for sinks, showers, and laundry. Water is conserved further through the use of water efficient fixtures, showerheads, and sensor faucets, along with flushless toilets. Read More

Photo credit: CBF Staff

One of the first uses of flushless toilets in an office building, our 12 composting toilets and urinals use hardly any water--just one gallon a day for misting the composter. Human waste is composted naturally to produce topsoil for our landscaping. This saves water and reduces the load on sewage treatment plants that contribute to nutrient pollution in the Bay. This process also reduces maintenance and removes the possibility of damage related to toilet backups and overflows.

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NATURAL VENTILATION

When temperature and humidity sensors determine that outdoor conditions are suitable for natural ventilation, dormer windows open automatically, "Open Windows" lights turn on signaling staff that it is OK to open the operable windows, and the mechanical system shuts down. The office uses natural ventilation over 30 percent of the year.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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EFFICIENT BUILDING MATERIALS

Extremely efficient structural insulated panels (SIP) used for the building's walls and ceilings reduce energy demands and costs. READ MORE

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

As a result, building costs were reduced because traditional framing, insulation, and drywall were not required.

The panels have a foam core that is four to eight inches thick (depending on the needed R value for insulation). The wall SIPs have an insulation value of R-25 and the roof is R-32. Unlike conventional framing, the panels maintain their strength without requiring wood studs inside the panel. As a result, there are no breaks in the insulation and much less lumber is used.

Inside, the face of the structural insulated panel walls was left exposed, conserving resources, saving money, and serving as an education tool. The designers capitalized on the aesthetic effect of a raw-looking interior, intentionally emphasizing the beauty of the unfinished look.

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RECYCLED MATERIALS

Much of the millwork is medium density fiberboard, made from reused sawdust and formaldehyde-free resins. The ceiling tiles are made from 78 percent recycled mineral wood and cellulose fiber and the particleboard is 100 percent recycled and recovered wood fiber.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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RECYCLED MATERIALS

Tiles used in the bathrooms and kitchen are made from recycled glass. Other recycled items include cabinet door pulls made from champagne corks and kitchen dishes, which belonged to the old Bay Ridge Inn.

Photo credit: CBF Staff

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RENEWABLE MATERIALS

Cork flooring and wall panels come from cork oak trees. The cork bark is harvested without killing the tree and regenerates in seven to nine years.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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RENEWABLE MATERIALS

Bamboo, used for beautiful hardwood flooring on stairs, landings, and the lobby, can be harvested every three to five years and replenishes itself naturally.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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RENEWABLE MATERIALS

Posts, beams, and trusses are made from Parallam® (strand lumber made from fast growing wood).

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

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RENEWABLE MATERIALS

Other wood used throughout the building (deck material, plywood, and dimensional wood) is either certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or drawn from sustainably managed forests.

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NATURAL MATERIALS

Linoleum flooring is durable flooring made from all-natural materials. Linseed oil is boiled, mixed with ground cork or wood flour, ground limestone, and other natural materials. Mineral pigments provide the color. Indoor air quality is also enhanced by using natural and other products with no or very low volatile organic compounds. This reduces chemical vapors and creates a healthy working environment.

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KITCHEN

Called the "Bay Cafe," the Merrill Center's kitchen and its outdoor deck provide a pleasant, sunny area where staff can gather for lunch, celebrations, or even casual meetings.

Photo credit: Nikki Davis

The kitchen includes refrigerators, microwave ovens, toasters, and of course, coffee and tea. Making it easy to "eat in"reduces the carbon emissions otherwise created by staff having to drive into town. Staff have also added a "freecycle" table where everything from books to home decor can be exchanged.

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