About two dozen people gathered on a gravel driveway Tuesday to celebrate the start of construction of Maryland's green designer show home being built by Baldwin Homes, an Annapolis-based construction firm.
The show home will be built at 1760 Holladay Park Rd. as part of the The Preserve at Severn Run community in Gambrills.
"This is a family project. My father bought these lots back in the '50s," said Michael Baldwin, president of Baldwin Homes.
The original intent was to build small homes on 25-by-100 foot lots, but that plan disappeared during the Great Depression.
"A lot of the lots wound up being given away. You could go to a bingo night and get a lot as a door prize, so there were little holes like Swiss cheese throughout the entire plan," Baldwin said. "It took my father basically 50 years to plug all the holes and be able to develop the property."
And the time to develop has finally arrived.
The decision to go green started when Anne Arundel County's Director of Public Works Ron Bowen voiced a few concerns about development of the sites.
"The brook trout in the Jabez Stream was being stressed, and the county asked us if we would do something a little bit different," Baldwin said. "I just felt as a builder we should do the project justice and build green homes."
The entire community is designed around a stormwater conveyance system.
"All of the stormwater stays on site, and it gets filtered through these swells," Baldwin said. "They all lead to a bio retention area that is all over planted with plants that allow the water to be filtered through the roots."
"This is probably one of the greenest communities that you will find in the country," Baldwin said.
And the shinning star of the development will be the designer show home.
Baldwin said he hopes the home will be completed by September, and he anticipates it will sell for around $1 million.
Once it sells and Baldwin covers his construction costs, all of the profits will be split between two charities: Hospice of the Chesapeake and Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic.
But before it sells, the show home will be open to the public for tours and a few private events. Baldwin said all of the money from these events will go directly to the charities.
How green the home will be rated by National Green Building Program is based largely on how many suppliers Baldwin can convince to donate products to the project.
"We’re shooting for gold, the top level is emerald," Baldwin said. "We are relying on some of our trade partners and suppliers to supply us products so that we can make it as green as possible, but I still want to be able to donate to the charity."
And green products can cost a lot of money.
KC Windows, a distributor for Pella Windows and doors in the Maryland area, will donate the windows for the home. Company President Stan Stokes said it was an easy decision to support the project.
“Our son, being a leukemia survivor, was a recipient of a Make-A-Wish grant when he was 4," Stokes said.
Annapolis-based Purple Cherry Architects designed the bones of the house, but its interior spaces will be designed by 23 separate design firms chosen from around the metro area. There is one team for each of the unique spaces found within the homes.
The names of the specific design firms chosen for each room will be released later this summer.
Catherine Purple Cherry said her firm was proud to be selected to design the home although it meant working a lot of nights and weekends.
"What's most significant in our lives is making change for others," she said.