Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, home of Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society, commands a picturesque site on Maryland’s Chester River. The river is a living laboratory that provides students with an immersive experience in support of the building’s programs in environmental science and sustainability.
The building is designed to operate at net-positive energy and to meet the holistic standards of Living Building Challenge Petal Certification. It is expected to produce 105% of its energy needs on-site, utilizing photovoltaic solar panels on the building’s metal roof and a ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system. Freshwater piping systems bring river water directly into the building’s laboratories for scientific research. Inspired by biophilic design, the building celebrates daylight with a south-facing rooftop clerestory, connections to the riverfront landscape, and outdoor porches and walkways. Craft and detail are displayed in the building’s cedar siding, porches and screens, and exposed wood roof trusses both inside and out.