Revitalizing Baltimore Neighborhoods

In partnership with the City of Baltimore, the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and APA – The Engineered Wood Association (APA) challenged designers to create a new urban row house design while considering the impact that building materials have on the environment.The Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition was held in the spring of 2013 and over $10,000 in cash prizes was award to the winning designs, determined by their global warming potential score (based on a scientific life-cycle assessment), cost-effectiveness, and adherence to the architectural design criteria for a new urban row house located in Baltimore, MD.

Fossil fuel use and climate change are important environmental issues facing our nation today. The common denominator for these concerns is greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere when fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are burned for energy or when organic materials decay. While most people are aware that North American forests help to address climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, less well known is the fact that wood products continue to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely. Substituting wood products for fossil fuel-intensive alternatives also results in significant amounts of “avoided” greenhouse gas emissions.

The Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition is also part of the USDA Forest Service’s vision for helping Baltimore rebuild and revitalize distressed neighborhoods in ways that utilize wood resources, increase green infrastructure, and spur local jobs and enterprise. To learn more about the Carbon Challenge, read the press release.

Baltimore News & Updates

Carbon Challenge Photos Posted

April 2013

Photos from the Baltimore Carbon Challenge Design competition have been posted in the following galleries:

Baltimore Design Competition Awards Ceremony to be Held on March 28

March 2013

Please join us for refreshments and recognition of the winners of the Baltimore Carbon Challenge. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served. The competition winners will be announced and $10,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finalists and the winners of three design categories: Best Use of Wood Products, Best Curb Appeal, and Most Cost-Effective Design. All of the award-winning designs will be on display.

The event will take place on March 28, 2013 from 4-6 p.m. at Humanim at the American Brewery (2nd Floor Events Room) at 1701 N. Gay Street, Baltimore, MD 21213. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. To RSVP, contact Anne Michaels at 504-309-8965 or

Learn more about the Baltimore Awards Ceremony.

Carbon Challenge Registration Is Now Closed

February 2013

Registration for the Baltimore Carbon Challenge Design Competition is now closed. Entry submittals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on March 4, 2013. For more information, visit the Baltimore Carbon Challenge Design Requirements & Rules page.

Please visit this website again soon for additional announcements about upcoming Baltimore Carbon Challenge activities and events.

Mayor, USDA Under Secretary Help Launch Baltimore Carbon Challenge

January 2013

The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory, APA – The Engineered Wood Association, and the City of Baltimore officially launched the Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition with a January 15 press conference for the local media and neighborhood representatives and a kick-off event for designers and architects. Speakers at the events included Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (Pictured above: Sherman and Rawlings-Blake, along with APA Senior Engineered Wood Specialist Robert Clark, address the media at the Baltimore Carbon Challenge design site.)

The Carbon Challenge Design Competition challenges architects to transform a vacant lot in Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood by designing a series of iconic row houses that consider the environmental footprint of the construction materials.

Read the full story.

Baltimore Competition Kick-Off Celebration to be Held on January 15

January 2013

The Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition will begin with a Kick-off Celebration on January 15, 2013 at Humanim at the American Brewery (1701 N. Gay Street, Baltimore). Tours to the competition site will depart from Humanim from 3-4 p.m., followed by the celebration back at Humanim from 4-6 p.m. Attend the Kick-off Celebration to:

  • Find out how to enter the Carbon Challenge and see the actual site of the design competition (a vacant site on N. Bethel St. in Baltimore City) and the surrounding community.
  • Learn about designing a more environmentally friendly home with a lower carbon footprint.
  • Enjoy a festive, fun event for builders and designers featuring live music, great food, giveaways, beer and wine.

Complete competition rules and design requirements will be posted on this website on January 16 (following the Kick-Off Celebration).

RSVP Today!

Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. To RSVP, contact Anne Michaels at 504-309-8965 or

Download a PDF invitation to the Kick-Off Celebration.

Baltimore Program Partners & Sponsors

December 2012

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Mark Halverson

About the FPL
The US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) was established in 1910 to conduct research and technology transfer to improve the utilization of our forest resource.

About APA
Founded in 1933, APA – The Engineered Wood Association is a nonprofit trade association serving the wood structural panel and engineered wood products industries. Its primary functions include quality auditing and testing, applied research and market development.

Baltimore Carbon Challenge Leadership Team

Bob Clark, Senior Engineered Wood Specialist
APA-The Engineered Wood Association
Dundee, MI

Karen Martinson, Program Specialist
USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Madison, WI

J. Morgan Grove, Research Scientist and Team Leader
USDA Forest Service, Baltimore Field Station
Baltimore, MD

Elizabeth Larry, National Coordinator for Urban Research
USDA Forest Service
Washington, DC

Alice Kennedy
Baltimore Office of Sustainability
Baltimore, MD

Martin Yoklic, Research Scientist
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ