Gallery: Merrill Environmental Center: the Greenest Building Ever?

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Headquarters located outside of Annapolis, MD is considered by many to be one of the greenest buildings ever built. Completed back in 2000, the Merrill Environmental Center was the first building to achieve LEED Platinum under USGBC's version 1.0 rating system. Boasting heaps of green building strategies and eco-friendly materials, the building backs up its eco credentials by completing building commissioning and building performance studies to ensure it is operating according to its design standards. The center uses almost 60% less energy and 90% less water than a typical office building built around that same time.

Designed and engineered by SmithGroup, the Merrill Environmental Center is a 32,000 sq ft facility designed for the organization’s 90-person staff. Located on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, about 15 minutes southeast of Annapolis, MD, the new facility provides space for the entire organization, which was previously spread out over four separate buildings. Before CBF bought the 31 acres of land, the site was slated for significant development. The headquarters sit on 4.5 acres of land and the remaining 26.5 acres were saved from future development after being put in a conservation easement.

The headquarters are composed of two shed-roof structures oriented to the South with a courtyard in between that is protected from the elements but angled to take in views of the bay. A parking garage is located underneath the building, and the rest of the parking at grade is covered in gravel to encourage stormwater infiltration. The surrounding landscape is composed of native and drought-tolerant plants to eliminate the need for irrigation. What little runoff is generated by the gravel parking lots is collected and treated in a bio-retention garden located within the parking lot.


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  1. zachd August 17, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    The building is truly special, beautiful in all aspects. They\’ve also added green roof and use strictly \”enviro-friendly\” stains, paints, and insecticides. The property also hosts osprey nests(one use to have camera feed!) and an apiary.

    Like I said, special.

  2. mike_kohn August 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Wow, what a great feature on the Environmental Center! Thanks so much for writing this up, Bridgette. All of us here at SmithGroup put a lot of value on sustainability and this project is one of the best examples of that.

    It’s really incredible in person. If you have a chance to check it out, it’s worth the trip. Personally, one of my favorite features is that its location on the Chesapeake Bay allows some employees to commute by kayak.

    Thanks again!

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