Our Buildings

Our educational complex is a prototype for the future and features two principal buildings that work together like interdependent species in an ecosystem. In keeping with the Foundation’s mission, these high performance green buildings work in harmony with nature, allowing us to make use of the sun and rain to achieve net zero energy, net zero water, and carbon-neutral facilities.

Grass Day-Use Building, Potomac Watershed Study Center

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center: The recently completed ‘Grass’ educational building is located at the sunny edge of a south facing field where its roof spreads out like wings to capture the sun’s energy. A network of 20 geothermal wells, located in the grassy field in front of the building, helps ensure the sun’s power is used most efficiently. The building’s tight “envelope” provides an “R” factor that is up to five times as effective as an average building.


Moss Overnight Lodge: When completed, the ‘Moss’ overnight lodge will be nestled in the woods on a north facing slope, replacing our nearly 50-year old residential facility. This new structure will reach high into the tree canopy where each student’s bunk will have a window on that aerial world. Its roof, like an inverted umbrella, is designed to gather rainwater that will be purified and used throughout the complex.

Sleeping Cabins, Potomac Watershed Study Center

Bunkhouses: In addition to the main educational buildings, two new sleeping cabins have been completed and will provide much needed accommodations when deconstruction of the current lodge begins. Once the lodge is completed, the cabins will provide auxiliary sleeping quarters, enhancing the Foundation’s ability to serve more students.


Boardwalk and Observation Stations: Nature is the best classroom and a carefully crafted series of bio-swales and rain gardens will help ensure the ‘classroom’ is well outfitted with opportunities to learn about engineering and other STEM concepts. Our fully accessible boardwalk, replete with observation stations and completed in 2013, meanders through an emergent wetland thereby complementing the notion of nature as classroom.