James Rada, Jr.
The new Seton Center Outreach Office and Seton Family Store are open for business. The Seton Center is not only serving as a community resource in Northern Frederick County, but it is demonstrating some of the best technologies in green and sustainable living.
“We wanted to be as earth-friendly as possible,” said Sister Martha Beaudoin, Seton Center Executive Director.
The building at 226 East Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg was dedicated and had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 10, 2018. Morgan-Keller Construction of Frederick served as the general contractor, building the 13,000-square-foot building designed by MSB Architects of Hagerstown. It houses the Outreach Office, Seton Family Store, and a large meeting room for workshops and presentations.
The most obvious energy-saving technology is the use of solar energy to power the entire building. The Seton Center has only electricity, which the solar panels power.
“Our first full month electric bill was a little more than $348,” said Sister Martha. “Our bill used to be about $600.”
An unseen improvement is that the building is insulated on the exterior, beneath the brick veneer.
Lighting in the store maintains a constant level of brightness and adjusts based on the natural light coming through the windows. Windows are tinted and have shades to help control how hot a room gets from sunlight. Lights have LED bulbs, and the lighting throughout the building is on motion-sensitive timers so that if no movement is detected for fifteen minutes, the lights in a room shut off.
“We don’t have to worry about leaving the lights on, but if I’m in my office and not moving around, the lights sometimes go off on me,” explained Sister Martha.
The parking lot uses permeable pavers to allow water to pass through it when it rains.
The Seton Center has dishwashers and reusable dishes so that throwaway plastic and paper plates and utensils aren’t needed.
The HVAC system also allows staff to control the amount of particulate matter indoors. Filters throughout the building collect particulates from the air.
“A lot of our staff have asthma problems, but they come in here, and they are fine,” Sister Martha said.
The toilets in the six bathrooms are all low-water usage, and the faucets are motion activated. Both features help reduce the water usage for the Seton Center.
All of these features are in a building that is attractive and welcoming to visitors. It replaces an old building on South Seton Avenue. That original building only had a ten-year lifespan, but it was used for more than sixty years.