Howard County Conservancy Designated As First Maryland Green Center in Howard County
The Howard County Conservancy has been named the first Maryland Green Center in Howard County by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE). This designation recognizes the Conservancy as a model for conservation and environmental best management practices; a provider of high quality environmental education, and a supporter of the Maryland Green School Awards Program.
Model of Conservation and Environmental Best Management Practices
Environmental Best Management Practices in construction of the Conservancy’s Gudelsky Environmental Education Center required the use of low energy options for heating, cooling and lighting. In designing and building the environmental center, passive solar elements were incorporated such as building orientation, window design, size and location for passive solar gain and high levels of insulation. All classrooms and offices have ample windows for daytime lighting. Roofing materials and color were selected based on limiting heating and cooling costs.
A light colored limestone driveway was put in place instead of macadam to reduce the thermal island effect generated by black macadam roads. Most of the buildings at the Conservancy are shaded by trees to keep the cooling needs low. Evaluation of the potential for geothermal energy use on the facility via groundwater heat pumps is underway.
Green elements inside the building include bamboo floors in the great room, a sustainable grass product which regenerates without replanting. Local quarried fieldstone was used in the foyer and retention walls which reduce manufacturing and transportation costs and energy. The recycled fiber carpet in the Gift Shop and Offices is made from 100% post-production recycled fiber and is from an environmentally recognized flooring manufacturer. The recycled tire floors in the lower hallway and lab are a 100% post consumer recycled product which contributes to waste reduction and reduced energy consumption in the manufacturing. Vinyl composite tiles found in the bathroom and kitchen are composed of 85% limestone and 15% post-industrial recycled vinyl content. No VOC paints were used in any part of the building. The exterior siding is constructed of Hardiplank, is a fiber cement siding made from cement and sawdust that is guaranteed for 50 years which reduces maintenance, replacement costs and material resource consumption.
The Conservancy also worked to reduce the new building’s impact on the surrounding environment. The Gudelsky Center was built on the existing footprint of the bank barn foundation. Five bio-ponds, landscaped with native plants, are integrated into the landscape surrounding the Center to reduce run-off. A light color roofing shingle was selected to reduce the heat island effect of the building. The center is run as a “dark sky” facility. To minimize light pollution, all exterior lights cast downward and minimal exterior lights were installed in the parking area.
Extensive habitat restoration has taken place around the Gudelsky Environmental Center and the 232 acres managed by the Conservancy. Bio-retention areas for storm water management were created with native plants. Areas disturbed by the 2005-06 construction were planted with native plants to absorb run-off from the building, parking lot and garden area. All landscaping around the education center is made up of native plants. To stabilize newly cut riparian slopes, locally adapted native plants were used.
As the largest land trust in Howard County, the Conservancy has protected more than 1,200 acres of property including farmland, natural resources, scenic views and historic features in Howard County. The Conservancy works to conserve land in the county by providing information to property owners and accepting donated easements. Easements prohibit more intensive land uses such as commercial, industrial, high-density residential developments. Agricultural and natural uses are encouraged. The Conservancy works with the Maryland Environmental Trust in our efforts to preserve land in Howard County.
Provider of High Quality Environmental Education
The Howard County Conservancy extends environmental learning into the community through a variety of projects and programs that address local environmental issues. Each year more than twelve thousand students participate in programs at the Conservancy such as school field trips, service learning projects, scout activities, summer camps, and nature preschool. The Conservancy provides volunteer opportunities, naturalist training, guided and self-guided nature hikes, Bay-wise gardening, and birding. The Conservancy fulfills its mission through many active community partnerships and an extensive network of volunteers.
The Conservancy offers numerous year-round educational programs for adults and children and hosts several internationally recognized guest speakers, authors and naturalist photographers each year. In February 2007, the Conservancy and twelve community partners hosted a presentation by Richard Louv, author, Last Child in the Woods. Louv’s message on nature deficit disorder resonated throughout the community with more than 500 people attending his lecture. This year, in 2022, we will have a full schedule of community events including Bird Walks; a Pollinator Festival, Butterfly Walks, Farm History Day, an Author Event for Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees by Susan Hitchcock, and a series of Patapsco River Hikes led by local naturalists.
Supporter of the Maryland Green School Awards Program.
The Conservancy supports schools in Howard County seeking to become Maryland Green Schools providing resource volunteers and assistance. For a full list of certified Maryland Green Schools, including Howard County, visit MAEOE’s Green School Listings and scroll down to Howard County.
For further information please call (410)465-8877.