Charm City is leading the way in going green by re-thinking new construction and remodeling. Though green building seems ideal for commercial units with large budgets, Baltimore offers great examples of green schools, non-profits and residences that highlight eco-changes that can be incorporated into your home.
The goals of green building are three-fold. The first is to maximize energy efficiency which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs. The second is to use earth-friendly and recycled materials in order to minimize wear and tear on nature. The third, and less obvious goal, is to create healthy and safe habitats by avoiding toxic and unhealthy chemicals often found in building materials.
Whittling through Baltimore’s top five green buildings is tough because there are many excellent choices, but this top-five list may inspire you to “go green” in your home.
Top Commercial Building:
University of Baltimore’s Angelos Law Center
1401 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
You can’t miss the very cool John and Francis Angelos Law Center while driving downtown on 83. The University of Baltimore’s School of Law building was built to meet the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status. The LEED rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the most widely-used set of green building standards. Maryland ranks #6 in the U.S. with 1,255 LEED-rated buildings. Opened in 2013, the Law Center’s windows circulate fresh air to reduce cooling costs and a rainwater collection system captures and re-uses rainwater, avoiding Baltimore’s storm water system.
This Baltimore County home, remodeled by Greenbuilders, took a road less traveled. The home’s square footage was reduced by 30 percent. Greenbuilders’ Polly Bart explains, “With energy efficiency in mind, the home had wasted square footage that was expensive to heat and cool. Another overriding goal was to create optimal indoor air quality and we accomplished that using VOC-free paints and formaldehyde-free cabinets and wood.” The remodel re-worked the home’s current system’s air ducts with great results. Going green doesn’t always have to mean a new heater and solar panels.
Blue Water Baltimore Watershed Center
3545 Belair Road
Baltimore, MD 21213
Baltimore’s first LEED Gold building is located in the Belair/Edison neighborhood. The list of green features is so long at this education center that any homeowner can be inspired to think green. The Watershed Center offsets the building’s electricity by choosing a zero-emission energy supplier, which is available to all Baltimore homes. The Center’s native landscaping, a 350-gallon cistern collection system and tankless hot water can all be incorporated into a home. If you’re searching for native plants, Blue Water Baltimore runs the Herring Run Nursery which offers over 150 native trees, shrubs and grasses.
Roland Park Country School (RPCS)
5204 Roland Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21210
Though RPCS is just one bright example of the nearly 100 Maryland Green Schools, its newly built Athletic Center is a showcase for students to learn first-hand what being mindful of green living is all about. The beautiful space belies the fact that most materials were recycled; the new gym floor contains recycled wood from the old gym. Toilets use water sparingly and flush for liquids and solids and the LEED Gold-rated building has a heat-reflective roof which no doubt would help many Baltimore homes on a hot summer day. Energy costs have been slashed in the school by installing energy-efficient lighting and Baltimore homeowners can take advantage of savings through BGE’s lighting rebates.
Top Urban Dwelling:
Towson Green Town Homes
19 Willow Ave.
Townson, MD 21286
Built within walking distance of the Towson Town Center Mall, Towson Green is a green community where residents can ditch their car and walk to stores, restaurants and public transportation. The townhouses meet Energy Star Certification, which focuses on energy-efficient appliances, windows and heating and cooling. Maximum insulation has made the units so airtight that air circulators bring in fresh air. Energy costs are down about 50 percent versus town homes built to code.
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Laurel Peltier is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.