Rain Garden

Enjoy the beauty of our rain garden.

  • Rain gardens are one way to decrease water runoff, increase water infiltration, and hold the soil in place during rainstorms.
  • Our native plants were chosen to provide a progression of constant color throughout the year.
  • Native plants supply pollinators and other wildlife with a wide variety of food .
  • Our plants thrive on Maryland’s typical amounts of rainfall, so they rarely need watering.


Click here to learn how to construct a rain garden of your own on the Howard County Website.



Solar Tree

Our beautiful solar tree produces 3 kilowatts!
What could you do with 3 kilowatts?

  • Run eight 100 watt light bulbs for 1 hour or eight equivalent LED light bulbs (13.5 watts) for 27 hours.
  • Operate your 42” LCD TV (160 W) for over 18 hours.
  • Run your laptop computer for almost 67,000 hours.
  • Do a load of dishes using the heated drying cycle for 2.1 hours (1200 watts for the dry cycle + 200 for the dishwashing.) Or turn off the heated dry and run it for 15 hours.
  • Run the microwave for 2 hours or bake for 1.5 hours.
  • Use your blow dryer for 3 hours.

Click here to learn more ways to get the most for each kilowatt you use.


Green Wall

Our green wall is not just another pretty face. These native plants:

  • Absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and filter other air pollutants.
  • Release water (evapotranspiration), which cools the surrounding air and buildings.
  • Absorb noise.


Swales are the rectangular grassy areas between the sections of our parking lot.

  • They are designed to capture the rain that flows off the pavement.
  • During heavy downpours, water is slowed, minimizing the risk of flooding.
  • Swales increase water infiltration, filter pollution, and increase ground water.
  • Less rainwater runoff means a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay.

Click here to watch the Chesapeake Bay video on runoff & NASA’s role in monitoring.


Efficient Electric Hand Dryers

Efficient Electric Hand Dryers

Energy efficient electric hand dryers use less energy and natural resources than paper towels.

  • To produce one ton of paper towels consumes 17 trees and pollutes 20,000 gallons of water.
  • And then there’s all the energy required and pollution created to cut down trees, take them to the mill, and turn the trees into paper towels.
  • Once you’re done with the paper towels, they will take up space the size of a compact car in the landfill.
  • Hand dryers generate no waste, thereby reducing what goes to the landfill.

Drinking Fountain and Water Bottle Filler

Stay hydrated… and don’t miss our dog fountain!

  • Reuse your water bottle. 38 billion plastic bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year.
  • Tap water can cost 500 times less than bottled water.
  • Production of disposable plastic bottles releases toxins into the air and requires more water than goes into the bottle.

Porous Pavers

A great way to slow the flow of rainwater.

  • The special pavers in the courtyard allow storm water to filter back into the ground instead of running off. This reduces erosion and flooding, keeps nearby streams clean, and ultimately is good for the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Solar Panels

Look up at the south-facing roofs and you will see our collection of solar photovoltaics.

  • We have 585 solar panels, each generating 280 watts. Altogether they generate 187,960 kw/hr per year. That’s enough to power a typical house for a month! Here at the Commons that’s enough to power ALL of the outside lights and interior common areas.
  • Any extra power produced by the panels is banked with the electric company and credited to the Commons.
  • Solar panels produce no climate changing emissions and typically pay for themselves in 7 years. (That includes the government rebates available for solar power installation.)

Click here for a short video that explain how it works.



There are six cisterns at the Commons, each of which can collect and store up to 1,000 gallons of water.

  • Recycling storm water for irrigation reduces the amount of city water that we use on our plantings.
  • Using the stored water will save many gallons of water every year.