Cafritz Environmental Center

Accokeek, Maryland

The 13th Living Building in the world bringing children to nature to educate and inspire

Three big ideas:

Living Building

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is an education, training, and events building at Hard Bargain Farm, a renowned environmental center on a 330-acre site along the Potomac River. Certified as the 13th living building in the world, the Cafritz Center has verified its net-zero energy performance and net-zero water performance, along with other measures of site sustainability, equity, health, and beauty.  Challenging site conditions encouraged the design team to look to nature for design solutions to address abundant groundwater and sub-par solar access. As a result, the Center was conceived as an elongated blade of grass nestled on a woodland edge. The building is designed to be ‘sailed’ by occupants to take advantage of daylight, breezes, views, and indoor-outdoor gathering spaces.

Fast Facts

living building logo

Living Building Challenge Certified

Net-Zero Energy verified

Net-Zero Water verified

Redlist free

Salvaged materials throughout

Native plant landscaping

Multiple covered outdoor spaces for indoor-outdoor learning

LEED NC Platinum

“THANK YOU, thank you, thank you for being so responsive to me, the staff, board and our stakeholders! One person shared that she has been staying awake at night thinking, thinking, thinking– from all the stimulation of the charrette. She shared that as she was watching the design team doing their magic she was in awe and asking – “who are these people, and how did we get so lucky to have them here?” She expressed that she has new faith in the world that there are such passionate and committed architects and design professionals in the country! ”

– Tracy Bowen, former Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation

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