Philip Merrill Environmental Center Tour

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

FROM THE OUTSIDETake the inside tour

Southern exposure Sun shades and window glazing Solar water heaters Galvalume Galvalume Hardipanel Northern exposure Rainwater cisterns Geothermal wells Parking Pervious Gravel Bioretention ponds Native plants Green roof Wetlands
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SOUTHERN EXPOSURE

To reduce the need for electricity, the building is situated on the site to receive maximum southern exposure for natural light and warmth and to take advantage of prevailing winds for natural ventilation.

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SUN SHADES & WINDOW GLAZING

A continuous 10-foot-wide porch in front of the South glazing has sun shade louvers made from salvaged pickle barrel staves. The spacing allows the winter sun into the building, but prevents summer sun from entering. The glazing was optimized to allow the winter sun's natural heat. The louvers prevent unwanted summer solar heat gain without compromising the building's natural day lighting.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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SOLAR WATER HEATERS

Arrays of solar tubing placed on top of the roof dormers provide heating for all the building's domestic hot water, saving approximately 120 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day.

Photo credit: © David Hartcorn

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ROOFING & SIDING

Galvalume (galvanized recycled steel) metal siding has high recycled content. Both siding and roofing were left unpainted so that the material could more easily be recycled in the future (if the building is deconstructed or renovated).

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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SIDING

Hardipanel is a fiber cement siding material that is structurally stable and highly resistant to extended exposure to moisture and salt air. It is made from Portland cement, ground sand, cellulose fiber (20 percent post-consumer recycled), and water.

Photo credit: © David Hartcorn

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NORTHERN EXPOSURE

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

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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RAINWATER CISTERNS

The galvanized metal shed roof allows for a single rain gutter, which drains rain water off the roof, through filters, and into storage cisterns. Each cistern holds 7,000 gallons of rainwater. Re-using rainwater avoids the need for a massive city water infrastructure upgrade. The system provides all of the building's non-potable water, used for irrigation, fire suppression, hand-washing, mop sinks, gear washing, and laundry. It also decreases runoff to the adjacent Bay and Black Walnut Creek.

Photo credit: © David Hartcorn

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GEOTHERMAL WELLS

Under the gravel parking area, 48 geothermal wells extend 300 feet underground to take advantage of the earth’s constant temperature (about 54 degrees) as a heat source to heat the building and winter and as a heat sink to cool the facility in summer.

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PARKING

Placing the building on piers allowed for underbuilding parking, which helped keep the building footprint small and reduced the use of impervious surfacing beyond the building. Two parking spaces provide charging for electric vehicles.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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PERVIOUS GRAVEL

Gravel and reclaimed concrete cover the parking area. They are pervious, slow down the flow of heavy rain fall, and reflect, rather than absorb, the heat of the sun, reducing the impact on the site's ecosystems.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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BIORETENTION PONDS

Bioretention stormwater treatment ponds capture stormwater runoff from the parking area. Stormwater passes through the ponds, which filter water and treat oils before the water enters the Bay or the adjacent Black Walnut Creek. Plant species were specifically selected to make the most use of excess nutrients in the stormwater runoff, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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NATIVE PLANTS

The landscape design takes into account the area’s highly erodible soils; plants have been selected that can help control future erosion. Drought-tolerant native plants minimize the need for irrigation. Mowing meadow and grasslands only once a year reduces fuel use and pollution on site. A diversity of native trees and shrubs add to the restored habitat for a diversity of wildlife.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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GREEN ROOF

Downspouts from the roof supply two rain barrels used for irrigation.

Photo credit: © Nikki Davis

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WETLANDS

Natural and manmade wetlands provide a natural filter for stormwater before it enters Black Walnut Creek, as well as habitat for aquatic life.

Photo credit: © Mid-Atlantic Aerial

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