Hard Bargain Farm Accokeek Maryland

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Let's take a look now at one project that has been designed to meet these standards, the Alice Ferguson Foundation's "Hard Bargain Farm," an environmental education facility located in Maryland, near Washington, DC. This project won the "Demonstrated Leadership" award at the 2007 USGBC "Greenbuild" show, for unbuilt projects.* The design concepts include the following strategies:

*Cascadia Green Building Council, www.cascadiagbc.org/lbc/lbc-competition/, accessed April 29, 2008.

1 Maintaining a compact development footprint that takes advantage of existing infrastructure.

2 Building on previously developed and degraded sites.

3 Nestling the buildings within and around mature trees.

4 Elevating the buildings to respect natural grade changes and minimize site disturbance.

5 Designing from the "inside-out," with building performance (daylight, energy efficiency, ventilation, water flows) guiding building form.

6 Movable insulation panels and sun shading devices that allow the buildings to adapt both daily and seasonally, to provide comfort with the least amount of energy consumption.

7 Use of wood grown and milled at Hard Bargain Farm.

8 Use of unfinished wood and/or metals that will weather naturally ("patina") and also facilitate eventual recycling.

9 Use of straw grown onsite for straw-bale walls of the one building.

10 Capture rainwater for use in the structures or on the site.

11 Provide a "living wall" to filter and channel roof runoff.

12 Use composting toilets or constructed wetlands for waste treatment.

13 Use salvaged or recycled "trash" materials for construction.

Philadelphia-based architect Muscoe Martin of M2 Architecture is a long-time proponent of sustainable design, who worked as the local architect for the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum project, profiled earlier in this book. Here he describes how a longer charrette process led to creative problem solving for an unusually challenging design program.*

Hard Bargain Farm is an environmental educational center designed jointly with M2 Architecture and Re:Vision Architecture, also located in Philadelphia. M2 Architecture is involved in the early design phases and then Re:Vision will pick up the project as it moves into construction.

We had a charrette that was different from the Morris Arboretum charrette. It was a four- or five-day event. We had staff members that worked for the foundation, board members who will be helping raise the money for the project, neighbors and interested community members. We chose to really make it a true design charrette in the sense that we actually developed the conceptual design for the project during the course of those five days. We were getting into it "real time" as we were developing the drawings. Of course, we had our engineers, landscape architects and our fully integrated design team there as well as the client's group. There were a couple of difficult decisions that had to be worked out in charrette. One was where to put the building on the site. They have quite a large site but there were some constraints. They wanted the building to be a living building. In fact, this project was one of the winners in the Living Building Challenge competition at Greenbuild 2007.

♦Interview with Muscoe Martin, M2 Architecture, March 2008.

During the charrette we had to figure out where to locate the building, and one of the criteria established before the charrette was that it had to be a zero net energy structure. In that climate, this requirement means we would need to collect quite a bit of solar energy both for daylighting and heating. The ideal site for that would to place the building out in the sun with good solar orientation. But the client's preferred site was on the location of an existing building that they wanted to either expand or replace.

The problem: that site was in the shade. It was tucked into some beautiful, mature shade trees with very poor solar orientation. That was a real conflict that we had: being able to deliver a really energy-efficient building while meeting the client's desire to use land that was previously disturbed. We kind of banged our heads against this for a while in the charrette and we got to point where we were at a standstill. We took a break for lunch. My joint venture partner from Re:Vision Architecture, Scott Kelly, had gone outside with his lunch. We held the charrette on the project site and he was sitting in the shade next to the existing building that the client wanted to renovate. He looked down between his feet where he was sitting and he saw that there was a bunch of moss growing there. He started thinking about that. It was a shady area, but stuff was growing there. So he thought, "Maybe our building needs to be more like a moss and less like something that's out in the sun." He wasn't sure what that meant but it was just kind of an inspiration that came to him.

After lunch he shared that with the group and the proverbial light bulb came on in my mind. I said, "Of course! We need two buildings. We need to split up the building and have one set of uses on the existing site. It's going to be the 'moss' building, and it's going to collect water, which is what moss does. It's going to be a shady building and take advantage of that environment. It can have big windows without worrying about overhangs because it's got shade. The other building should be out in the sunny field. That's going to be used for daytime uses and it's going to collect solar energy. It's going to be like grass. It's going to be the 'grass' building. (Fig. 14.2)"

That was huge. Within that half-hour of discussion, we had solved the problem. It was because we had first banged our heads around this issue, then went away and let things settle. Then someone had an inspiration in which they brought back and created another set of inspirations amongst the group. That project is now moving along, we're in the design process and we now have two buildings. One will collect and purify rainwater, which will be distributed to both buildings. That's the Moss Lodge. The Grass Building will sit down in the field. It is smaller but it will have big eaves, big overhangs and photovoltaics. It will collect enough solar energy for both buildings. The two buildings will work together symbiotically.

There were other positive benefits of breaking the building up in terms of the uses. By having the client's staff in the room for the charrette, they were able to determine how the uses for each building should be divided. We had input from both the client, who knew how things were going to operate, and expertise from the design team, who knew how to incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation and water efficiency into the design.

This made us examine the idea of a living building. A building can't really live on its own because it's got to take in energy, materials and water and put out waste. You

Building Made Waste Materials

Figure 14.2 The Alice Ferguson Foundation Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, Maryland will consist of two buildings: the "Moss Lodge" situated on a shady site and the "Grass Building" situated on a sunny site. Available resources and energy will be shared between the two to achieve the goals of a living building. The project expects to begin construction in 2009. Courtesy of M2 Architecture/Re:Vision Architecture.

Figure 14.2 The Alice Ferguson Foundation Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, Maryland will consist of two buildings: the "Moss Lodge" situated on a shady site and the "Grass Building" situated on a sunny site. Available resources and energy will be shared between the two to achieve the goals of a living building. The project expects to begin construction in 2009. Courtesy of M2 Architecture/Re:Vision Architecture.

can't think of a building as living, you have to think of a site and the building together as a living thing. Having two buildings, each of which are sitting in very different microclimates but within a few hundred yards of each other, means that they are going to have very different flows of energy through them. Each is able to make use of what it can do well and share that [with the other]. It's pretty unique. I hadn't encountered a situation like this before where we let two buildings work together in that way.

The two buildings will work symbiotically, with one supplying energy and the other water. The new "Moss Lodge" will replace the old overnight Wareham Lodge, located on a shady hillside. Its roof reaches up to gather rain that will be purified for use by both buildings. The landscape will channel and filter stormwater runoff and graywa-ter from sinks and showers to recharge the underground aquifers. The day-use education center, called the Grass Building, will be built at the sunny edge of a field, its roof spreading out like wings to collect solar energy for the entire complex. The Grass Building will provide multi-functional space, indoors and covered outdoors, for students visiting Hard Bargain Farm.

Although small, this project is a wonderful example of the trend in restorative and regenerative design. It takes an understanding client, the right design program, an experienced design team and a process that allows for insight and innovation to make all of this happen. But, given that the size of the U.S. commercial and institutional building market, even in a bad year, exceeds $200 billion, don't we have enough money (and time) to "do the right thing," instead of just "doing things right"? In the developed world, we have the design talent, builders who can build just about any design, product manufacturers who innovate constantly, abundant capital, financiers who can finance just about anything, all the right stuff. Why can't we build high-performance living buildings—in all of our market sectors—as our legacy to future generations?

If you've read this far, you know that the answer is up to you and your colleagues. This book has made the case for an integrated design process, and it has shown you many examples of how it's done. Now it's your turn; good luck!

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