AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles is a guest on Kojo Nnamdi Show Nov. 30

November 29th, 2015

Lori Arguelles joins fellow panelists Tommy Wells, Director, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and Patty Rose, Director, Greenspace, to discuss what it means for organizations who are “going green.” From little changes — recycling, paperless transactions — to structure-wide improvements like LEED certification, every little effort counts. But only a handful of structures in the U.S. are certified “Living Buildings” — those that meet the strictest eco-friendly building standards in the world. Now, after a decade-long construction process, a new education center in Prince George’s County is attempting to achieve “Living Building” status. Kojo learns how this net-zero energy, carbon-neutral structure came to life, and finds out how the District’s own plans for supergreen affordable homes and sustainable buildings could impact residents and the environment.  Listen to the recording

Embracing the Living Building Challenge

November 19th, 2015

By Karen Jensen Miles

Sponsored by the United States Green Building Council, Greenbuild is the world’s largest conferenceLiving Building and expo dedicated to green building. The green building community gathers annually to share ideals and mutual passion. The conference features uplifting speakers, unparalled networking opportunities, showcases, LEED workshops and tours of green buildings in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Greenbuild offers a place for thousands to gather and renew their commitment to the green movement.

This year, Greenbuild is hosted by the National Capital Region chapter. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is honored to have been chosen as the site for two of the carefully vetted tours. On Monday, November 16th, we were the last stop on a day long tour entitled ‘River Ride Along the Watershed’, where attendees visited our new education campus that contains the region’s first ‘Living Building’. Attendees learned how this site embraces the principles of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), while also continuing their day of education about the perils threatening, and opportunities arising, for the area’s watershed. The presenters discussed the foundation’s mission and history and why it was important for our organization to embrace the LBC; an introduction to the LBC; and an overview of the building and the site’s water systems that included existing site conditions, project priorities, supply water, waste water and stormwater. Attendees also participated in an interactive, educational lesson called ‘Who Polluted the Potomac?’ that highlights the types of activities that all of us do that impacts our natural waterways. They also walked the site to see the ‘flow’ of water on the site.

On Friday, November 20th, a technical tour comprised of about 50 attendees and ten presenters will arrive at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center to learn about the Living Building Challenge (LBC) in the context of our project. There will be information about AFF as a whole; the project description and development to include: design process, charrette, construction process; rainwater and the site; water and energy; materials used; and LBC lessons learned. Our LBC project is being monitored carefully by the ‘green’ world of architects, engineers, planners, contractors and governmental agencies. We are very excited to be under the microscope since our experiences will aid others as they determine the various routes and responsibilities they want to undertake in the future.

All That is Green Is New Again

November 10th, 2015

Read the article from the Prince George’s Suite magazine here.

Alice Ferguson Foundation Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New Environmental Education Building

October 29th, 2015

By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES  [email protected]
October 29, 2015


Imagine a futuristic building that can work in harmony like species in an ecosystem and mimic the beauty, resourcefulness and efficiency of nature’s surroundings.
It incorporates net zero energy, net zero water, carbon neutral and nontoxic materials into its construction. The building is so innovative in environmental design that it can generate hot water with its solar thermal panels, reduce the need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling, eliminate the need for toilet flushing and can even divert solid waste from the landfill to recycle and reuse streams. It also is one of only seven buildings in the world designed to meet the the most stringent set of green-building standards ever created in modern-day history.

Now click your heels three times and say “there’s no place like AFF.”

Since its founding more than 60 years ago, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has been dedicated to educating visitors of all ages about the natural world, inspiring them to recognize their role in protecting it and seeking innovative ways to solve environmental challenges, according to an information booklet.
“The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been a premier provider of transformative, experiential, environmental education programs for students in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” Lori Arguelles, the foundation’s executive director, said. “Over the past six decades, we’ve served nearly half a million students. …Our mission is to connect people to nature, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed and we do that through education, advocacy and stewardship.”
When the time came to renovate and refresh its educational campus, the Foundation honored its mission by regenerating, not depleting, the environment through state-of-the-art green design and construction.

The foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm broke new ground Oct. 23 in Accokeek with the unveiling of its new Environmental Education Building, a living structure that not only demonstrates a strong bridge between the natural and built environments, but also the sustainable use of natural resources and the science, technology, engineering and math concepts embodied therein.

“Our guiding principles have been education, inspiration and innovation, all three of which are exemplified in the building we are here to unveil today,” Arguelles said. “A building [that] embraces the Living Building Challenge which is the most rigorous set of energy efficiency green-building standards in the world today.”

Now that construction of the education building has finished, the foundation has to meet the Living Building Challenge’s criteria for net zero energy and water goals for one year.

Once the foundation is given the green light for certification, it will become the eighth leader in the world in providing advanced education programs, specifically in the area of long-term environmental sustainability.

“As you’ll soon learn, it’s more than just a building; it is our newest teaching tool,” said Dan Jackson, president of the board of directors at the foundation. “As an environmental engineer by training, I’m excited about how the workforce of the future will benefit from the STEM based education opportunities so abundant in this building.
… I know that the innovation we exemplify is going to change the face of construction forever.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he couldn’t be happier about the positivity the education building will bring for thousands of Marylanders, especially the residents of Prince George’s County.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation has made such a positive difference in our environment and the legacies that we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren,” Cardin said. “For 60 years [and] 500,000 children, this is an incredible record. … This is team Maryland and we’re proud of what we do every day. … What we’re doing here at the [Foundation] is a model for what we do in Maryland and around the nation.”

For Cardin, the building is not just a national model, but a living example of the relationship between the built environment and the natural world.
“This is a building that will be positive on carbon emissions which means it actually subtracts carbon from our environment,” said Cardin. “It’s going to be totally friendly on the use of water [and] is a living example for the students that come through here. This center has been here for 60 years. It is an incredibly valuable part of our educational system.”

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said the project is a dream come true for the county.
“Here you have these very bright kids going around this nature, going around this farm, understanding how science, math and art all come together in the beauty of this facility,” said Baker (D). “We really are blessed in this county. … We’re making great progress in this county. We’re going in the right direction. … But the thing that we want to make sure [of] is the quality of [our children’s] education; that is what this stands for. … It’s to bring our young people here and get them to understand that history is alive, that science is alive, that art is alive and it’s right here in this facility.”

For other county leaders like Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin, he is grateful for the project’s vision toward a green and sustainable future.
“Today’s really a celebration of innovation,” said Franklin (D). “This is one of seven living buildings in the entire world. … So we should celebrate this achievement for what it means not just for the county, not just for the region, but for the world. We have the obligation to be the stewards of God’s earth [and] what God has blessed us with. To imagine that we can do so in a way that helps foster development is truly incredible. … This really is about opening minds so that we have students coming from Tokyo, South Korea [and] England coming right here to the Hard Bargain Farm because they know that we’re bringing the world to Prince George’s County and we’re bringing innovation for the rest of the world in terms of the environment. … With innovation like this, the best is yet to come.”
Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) said innovative projects like the Environmental Education Building promotes the importance of protecting the environment, a lesson that will carry on to students and future generations of environmental stewards.

“The net zero water and energy goals embodied in this living building help us all to reflect back on a time when we lived closer to the land and better understood the rhythms of nature,” Muse said. “We humans are but one species in a complex ecosystem interdependent on others and yet often we can be thoughtless and careless about our actions and their consequences. The thought-provoking lessons that the students learn here will now be taken to an entirely new level as they examine water, waste and energy through the lens of the foundation’s newest teaching tool.”

Online article

Local Students Benefit from One of World’s Only Living Buildings

October 23rd, 2015

State-of-the-Art Environmental Education Center Opens in Maryland

Thousands of students from around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will begin using one of the world’s greenest, most energy efficient buildings today as the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) unveils Ben Cardinits new education building at its Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center. The net zero energy, net zero water, and carbon neutral structure is designed to meet the Living Building Challenge™, the most stringent set of green building standards. Only seven buildings worldwide have been certified through this rigorous regimen, which also requires strict adherence to use of non-toxic materials in building construction.

The ribbon cutting for the new building coincides with the return of students to the Foundation’s education campus, and featured remarks from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (MD); Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III; Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin; Maryland State Senator Anthony Muse (District 26); Governor Larry Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Richard; National Park Service-National Capital Region Director Bob Vogel; and AFF program alumni Owen and Ella Zeigler.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s ‘Hard Bargain Farm’ has provided an incredible backdrop for a wide variety of educational programs for many years. Its new facilities will allow the Foundation to expand its future reach by exposing generations of students to really fascinating hands-on learning opportunities,” said Senator Cardin. “Not long ago, carbon-neutral buildings made completely of non-toxic materials that use net zero energy and water were the stuff of science fiction, but today are a reality. Visionary projects like these will help show us the way out of the climate change crisis we are continuing to create for ourselves. I couldn’t be happier to have this monument to sustainability in Maryland or to know that thousands of students will have the chance to learn vital lessons here in the future.”

The Foundation’s curriculum, which examines biodiversity, adaptation, climate resiliency, and the cycles of nature, will get a boost from this state-of-the-art building as it demonstrateBaker-Millers the sustainable use of natural resources and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts embodied therein.

“For the past half a century, Prince George’s County has been very fortunate to have an organization like the Alice Ferguson Foundation serving our citizens by promoting environmental sustainability. Before ‘sustainability’ became a buzz word, this environmental champion engaged generations of County residents and regional students at its environmental learning center, the Hard Bargain Farm,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “With today’s ribbon cutting of this unique state-of-the-art Environmental Learning Center, the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Prince George’s County will be demonstrating to the world the newest in sustainable technologies and simultaneously educating the next generation of incredible environmental stewards.”

Students of all ages will be challenged to problem solve, particularly around the concepts of water, energy, and waste. An internet-based dashboard providing real time building performance and green features engages students and encourages their collaboration around sustainability goals.

“During my field study at the farm I learned to better respect my environment,” said Owen Zeigler, a former 5th grade program participant. Currently,



Owen and Ellaan eighth grader at William H. Farquhar Middle School, Owen remarked, “I had heard about this field trip from other kids at school and couldn’t wait to come here. It was an amazing experience! I learned the value of protecting our environment and reducing our carbon footprint.”

“The Living Building Challenge offers an important opportunity to build a bridge between the built environment and the natural world,” said Alice Ferguson Foundation Executive Director, Lori Arguelles. “Our goal is to regenerate the surrounding environment as we construct groundbreaking buildings that serve as innovative teaching tools integral to our STEM, ecological, and agricultural focused education programs.”

Support for the project has come from the State of Maryland, the Maryland Energy Administration, Prince George’s County, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Maryland Energy Administration, Kresge Foundation, Unilever, Philip L. Graham Fund, Old Line Bank, James Hardie/Hardiplank, the Veverka Family Foundation, the Solar Schools Foundation and numerous individual donors. Re:Vision Architecture led the project design team and Facchina Construction Company has served as the general contractor.

“Constructing smarter, more efficiently designed buildings is not just the right thing to do—it’s good for business,” said Charles McPherson, President and CEO of the Facchina Construction Company. “We are proud to be a partner in this groundbreaking effort. We are confident that the Living Building Challenge will have far-reaching impacts on the future of the construction industry.”

Alice Ferguson Foundation Unveils One of the Greenest Environmental Education Buildings in the World

October 22nd, 2015

Buildings as Teaching Tools

Since its founding more than six decades ago, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has been students-at-buildingdedicated to educating visitors of all ages about the natural world, inspiring them to recognize their role in protecting it and seeking innovative ways to solve environmental challenges. When it came time to renovate and refresh our educational campus, we challenged ourselves to incorporate the latest advances in environmental design and construction. Our goal is for students to have an inspiring place to learn and to construct buildings that serve as powerful and innovative teaching tools.

The unveiling of our Living Building, marks a major milestone in our multi-phase project that provides educational facilities constructed with the greenest building standards in the world today. The thousands of students who visit our Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center will learn how design and construction can make the world a better place. In keeping with the Foundation’s mission, the building will work in harmony with nature, allowing us to utilize the building as both a classroom and a teaching tool.

All building users will have an energy and water ‘budget’ to manage during their stay. Electronic tablets that are connected to the buildings’ infrastructure will allow constant monitoring of resource use, even when students are not in the building. The data will inform any adaptations and new strategies that may need to be made as each group of students seeks to help the Foundation meet the net zero energy and water goals inherent in the Living Building Challenge. The data will be analyzed, synthesized, and shared as part of our commitment to sustainability, learning, and innovation.

Our core values of Education, Inspiration, and Innovation are serving us well as we transform our aging infrastructure into one of the most innovative and inspirational education facilities anywhere in the world. The Living Building will not only enhance and upgrade our structure but also serve as a tool for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts, as well as augment our core ecological curriculum.

Bringing Solar Power to One of the Most Environmentally-Friendly Buildings in the World

October 14th, 2015

Read the article: Bringing Solar Power to One of the Most Environmentally-Friendly Buildings in the World


AFF in the News

January 9th, 2015

11.10.2015 – Prince George’s Suite Magazine
All That is Green is New Again

10.2015  Facility Executive Magazine

Students Benefit from One of World’s Only Living Buildings

10.2015  Southern Maryland News
Alice Ferguson Foundation Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New Environmental Education Building

5.2015  Biohabitats
Potomac Watershed Study Center at Hard Bargain Farm

2.2015 – Environmental Building News
Take Control of Your Materials: Four Empowering Lessons Teams That Beat the Red List

01.09.2015 – Grid Magazine
The Living Building Challenge demands that teams exceed LEED requirements to create buildings that restore nature

07.06.2014 – Bay Journal
Three New Reports Talk Trash

06.14.2014 – Chesapeake Bay News
Non-profit combats litter in the Potomac River watershed

04.22.2014 – WTOP
April is Litter Enforcement Month

04.09.2014 – Washington Post
From Bottles to Roofing Materials, Creek Crew Cleans Up

04.07.2014 – WTOP
25 Years Later, Potomac River Cleanup Still Going Strong

04.05.2014 – Washington Post
In Fairfax, Volunteers Fight a Flood of Trash in Little Hunting Creek

04.04.2014 – Betheda Now
April Is Litter Enforcement Month

04.02.2014 – Fredrick News-Post
Volunteers Organize Potomac Watershed Cleanup

04.02.2014 – Prince of Petworth
MPD: “April is Litter Enforcement Month” Tickets Range from $50 to $500

03.30.2014 – Washington Post Express
The Potomac Gets a Pick-Me-Up With a Massive Spring Trash Cleaning

02.01.2014 – WAMU’s “The Animal House”
Future Farming

01.18.2014 – East of the River Magazine
Shepherd Park Clean-up Enters Third Year

01.08.2014 – East of the River Magazine
Results from DC’s Bag Tax, Four Years Out

01.07.2014 – DCist
Survey: Majority Of D.C. Residents Support Plastic Bag Fee

12.17.2013 – Washington Post TV
School Kids Visit Farm, Milk Chance to Learn About Food

12.17.2013 – Washington Post
A lesson on Climate Change at the Hard Bargain Farm in Prince George’s County

12.15.2013 – Washington Post
Prince George’s Children Learn Where Their Food Comes From at Hard Bargain Farm

10.31.2013 – Bay Journal
It’s Time to Give Plastic Bags the Sack in Urban Streams

10.27.2013 – Alexandria News
Alexandria Wins Regional Trash Award

10.09.2013 – The Sentinel
Prince George’s County students visit historic Hard Bargain Farm

10.07.2013 – Washington Post
Shutdown Forces Cancellation of Student Environmental Ed Trips

08.29.2013 – The Sentinel
Hard Bargain Farm Educates, Enlightens Students About Environment

07.25.2013 – The Gazette
Middle school “Green Team” wins video contest

07.21.2013 – The EmeraldPlanet
Creating Living Legacies of Vibrant Soil, Safe Water, and Clean Air

07.11.2013 – Comcast Newsmakers
Conversation with Lori Arguelles- Alice Ferguson Foundation

07.10.2013 – The Sentinel
Middle School Could Win Litter-Prevention Ad Contest

06.09.2013 – Fredrick News-Post
Teaching ‘Green’ at all Levels of Education

05.11.2013 – Comcast Newsmakers
Conversation with Lori Arguelles- Alice Ferguson Foundation

05.06.2013 – Gazette
Accokeek Environmental Center Set to Come ‘Alive’

05.02.2013 – Bay Weekly
Giving a Building Life

05.01.2013 – The Sentinel
Accokeek-Based Environmental Organization Breaks Ground on ‘Living’ Watershed Educational Facility

04.30.2013 – Bay Journal
Potomac Cleanup Collects 286,500 Pounds of Litter

04.26.2013 – ABC 7
Prince George’s County Breaks Ground on a ‘Living Building’

04.21.2013 – WHBC
Don’t Drop That

04.17.2013 – Patch
Alexandria to Participate in Litter Enforcement Month

04.15.2013 – My Green Montgomery
Litter Prevention Video Contest

04.11.2013 – The Sentinel
Volunteers Gather to Clean Up the Potomac River

04.10.2013 – Potomac Almanac
Cleaning up the River

03.11.2013 – Washington Post
County Police to Increase Enforcing Litter Laws in April

03.02.2013 – Washington Parent
Riverkeepers: Watershed Projects for Families

02.02.2013 – Capital Gazette
Montgomery Waterways Show Results From Bag Tax

01.02.2013 – Bay Journal
Tired of Getting Dumped On, Initiative Gets Tough on Trash

10.12.2012 – East of the River Magazine
No More Traveling Trash in Deanwood

10.09.2012 – The Gazette
Students Visit C&O Canal Through Grant Program

08.02.2012 – The Washington Post
D.C. Expands its Anti-Littering Program

08.02.2012 – Bay Journal
Partnership Taking on Trash in the Anacostia

07.06.2012 – The Gazette
Accokeek Nonprofit Touts Planned ‘Living Building’

05.17.2012 – The Gazette
Hard Bargain Farm Seeking Participants to Celebrate National Get Outdoors Day

05.11.2012 – The Prince George’s Sentinel
City Folk Experience Country Life at Annual Spring Farm Festival

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
The Potomac River, in Good Health and Bad

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
Potomac River’s and Anacostia River’s Cleanup Makes Progress, but Much Work Remains

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
The History of the Anacostia River

04.19.2012 – The Gazette County Police Partner with Accokeek Environmental-Preservation Organization to Enforce Litter Laws

04.19.2012 – Prince George’s Sentinel
More Than 70 Volunteers Clean Trash From Potomac River Watershed in Accokeek

04.13.2012 – WAMU
Region Enforces Cleanup, Cracks Down On Litter Laws

04.11.2012 – Southern Maryland Newspaper
County, Foundation Want Volunteers for Potomac River Cleanup April 14

04.05.2012 – The Connection
Thousands To Untrash The River

02.29.2012 – The Washington Post
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch to get hit with debris from Japanese tsunami

10.17.2011 – Prince George’s Sentinel
Trash Summit Sets Goal for Potomac to be Trash Free by 2013

10.09.2011 – The Gazette
Oktoberfest at Accokeek Farm Helps Support Environmental Programs

Sunny Days at AFF and Solar Energy

October 6th, 2014

By Lindsay Renner, AFF Communications Coordinator

As the construction of the first portion of the Potomac Watershed Study Center nears completion, one thing is readily apparent: we’ve come a long, long way but there is still much to be done! Mere weeks ago, the solar panels that will eventually come to power the entire complex were installed on the roof of the Grass Day-Use building. This is but one small step on the path to completing the Living Building Challenge© and thus continuing on the path of innovation that has marked nearly 60 years of tradition here at the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

On September 3rd, there was an event at the farm that featured panelists well-versed in solar energy, along with its uses, benefits, and how it can be a reality for everyone, even private homeowners. Although there are many things that will separate the PWSC from other green buildings, its reliance on solar energy as its sole source of power is, to my mind, perhaps what sets it apart the most. It’s impossible to deny that the world’s resources are facing rapid depletion, and that irresponsible building practices play a huge role in unnecessarily high energy consumption. Marked changes in the way we approach the design and construction process are the only way to combat this.

solar outside
When he was discussing the building construction, the PSWC project manager, Brandon Gamble of Facchina Construction, spoke of how the solar panels will allow the building to create its own energy and use only that. That, to me, is what brings home the point that this building will truly be “living.” They’re silent and consistent, as Beth Kennedy of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative pointed out, and they don’t produce any greenhouse gases and are incredibly low maintenance.

solar wiring inside
By 2020, as representatives from the Maryland Energy Administration pointed out, the state goal is to ensure that two percent of all energy is solar. With that in mind, it only makes sense that AFF spearheads the effort to have buildings powered entirely by solar energy. If we truly care about the preservation of the environment and natural resources, this is the least that we can do. Every day, we connect people to the land around them: our newest buildings, in turn, should be just as much a part of the land as the trees and grass and other features, and these panels are just one step down that road.

Alice Ferguson Foundation Wins Green Business of the Year

October 1st, 2014

On Friday, September 19, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) was recognized by the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce as the 2014 Green Business of the Year at its annual Excellence in Business Awards Gala. AFF was honored to be nominated in this category alongside Bates Trucking and Trash Removal and Green Forever Landscaping & Design. The annual gala, designed to honor the businesses that go above and beyond, also recognizes individual entities that have made noteworthy contributions to their respective fields and help maximize the economic potential of the county as a whole.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious award,” said AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles. ”Over the past 60 years we have invested in environmental education experiences for hundreds of thousands of students. Today we are investing in one of the world’s greenest, most energy efficient building complexes in the world to serve the students of the future and appreciate the recognition of our efforts.”

The Foundation’s Potomac Watershed Study Center embraces the principles of the Living Building Challenge©, making it among the most innovative and environmentally sustainable building projects in the world. Upon completion, the net-zero water, net-zero energy, and carbon neutral Center will take green buildings to a new level. Currently there are only five certified ‘Living Buildings’ in the world.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. AFF operates the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center—a 330-acre working farm located on the shorelines of the Potomac River south of Washington, D.C. As we fulfill our mission of connecting people to nature and inspiring actions that sustain our world, we provide environmental education programs at Hard Bargain Farm and through our Bridging the Watershed program at National Parks throughout the Potomac River Watershed. Our Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative seeks systemic solutions to the persistent problem of trash. Learn more at

The Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit alliance of over 900 businesses, representing over 300,000 employees, making it one of the largest chambers in the state of Maryland and the Washington Metropolitan region. Founded in 1924, the Chamber works to carry out its mission of advancing the interest of business for a vibrant Prince George’s County. Through its various programs and legislative agenda, the Chamber promotes an understanding of and appreciation for business, provides strong business community leadership, and sponsors programs of a civic, social, and cultural nature in order to improve the quality of life for Prince George’s County residents and the business community.