I was down in Jessup, Maryland recently to conduct some presentations in a facility known as the Enviro Center. Previously I had talked about the regional clearinghouses for sustainability that are popping up around the country like Earth Advantage in Oregon, that bring together sustainability professionals and consumers interested in learning about sustainable practices. But the Enviro Center is a living experiment of a sustainable environment.
The founder and CEO, Stanley J. Sersen along with his partners renovated an existing, old farmhouse on a busy road in Jessup to be a multi-office complex for new businesses. The building encompasses sustainable principals and practices and is a showcase of solutions. Some of the principles employed are natural daylight, rainwater harvesting, use of renewable materials, and extremely efficient mechanical controls, including active and passive technologies to be more energy efficient. The solar roof panels provide 65% of the power for the building. You can walk through the building and see, in practice, all these technologies.
This is especially neat because you are in the space talking to someone who has experience in executing all these technologies while seeing these practices in action. You can walk around and discuss how these concepts work, what the logistics were to accomplish the work, what the learning curve was, what permits were needed. You can actually feel the indoor environmental quality of the space.
The other unique aspect of this facility is that it is not textbook learning it is working learning. It’s the type of learning that sticks with you so deeply because you are experiencing it first hand. The impact is long-lasting.
The Enviro Center is planning to bring more technologies and cutting-edge practices into the facility in Phase II of their development. Very exciting stuff! Watch a video on the Enviro Center.
Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation