Every energy journey begins with the first step. Penzance, developer of the 310,000-square-foot Class A office building at 3001/3003 Washington Blvd., made sure to take that first step in partnership with the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) at the earliest phases of the project. That decision provided big benefits for both the developer and Arlington County.
Penzance’s Stephen B. Powell Jr. explains why early engagement is so important. He’s senior project manager for development and construction at the Washington-based investment company.
Powell advises developers to “start the process early and include an efficient, environmentally friendly building in the original business plan. This will make it easier to complete the design—and it also will guide the entire team, ensuring that they are thinking about efficiency throughout the entirety of the project.”
“Not only does this produce a great product that one is proud of building, but it will increase profits and marketability due to the high efficiencies,” he adds. “Once you set your goal to be green, the upfront capital is not prohibitive and the process is manageable, although it does require detailed analysis, a LEED consultant, and a considerable amount of work with the County and design team.” (LEED—short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is a widely used green building certification program.)
The payoff can be substantial—and not just because the building’s energy costs are projected to be as much as 30 percent lower than they would be without the efficiencies. Under its green building density incentive program, Arlington County grants a floor area ratio bonus to any developer that achieves at least Silver status in LEED’s certification program. Penzance—which exceeded the original goal by achieving LEED Gold—earned 7,394 extra square feet of density for reaching at least Silver status. That means it has more space to rent in an energy-efficient, eco-friendly building.
There are broader benefits too.
“This creates a better environment in which the people live and work,” Powell says. “By being leaders in the industry and educating the people on green and environmentally friendly practices, we ensure that we’re preserving our environment for those who come after us.”
AIRE is proud to work in partnership with developers to achieve results like this. For 3001/3003 Washington Blvd., Penzance consulted with AIRE from the beginning to determine the best efficiencies to work into the design and the best environmental practices for construction. As it would do with any developer, AIRE worked with Penzance to review the LEED scorecard and talk about what the project could incorporate. From AIRE’s perspective, the company consulted with our office earlier in the process than many developers and gave our suggestions a particularly thoughtful review.
The resulting two-tower office building with first-floor retail tenants includes great efficiencies in many areas, including these features:
- A sophisticated ventilation and air-conditioning system automatically adjusts for changes in outdoor air temperature and the number of people in each space (using occupancy sensors), while still allowing for individualized control.
- All lights use compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, with sensors that turn them off when rooms are unoccupied.
- Low emissivity (low-e) glass is used in every window, meaning that each one is treated with a special invisible coating. In summer, this coating reflects certain wavelengths of sunlight to help keep the inside cool; in winter, it reflects indoor heat back into the building to help retain warmth.
- “Green roof” systems, with plants and materials that absorb heat and act as insulators for buildings, are used not only for the roofs, but also for the terraces on the second, third, fifth, and eighth floors.
In addition, Penzance monitored the waste stream from construction of the building to ensure that it would be disposed of in an environmentally sound way, in accordance with the LEED recycling credit.
This project, completed in March 2014, is significant for another reason: It’s the first that falls under a new requirement for developers to submit post-occupancy energy use data to Arlington County every year for five years as part of the green building density incentive program.
I want to emphasize that no developer will be penalized by the County if the efficiencies fall short of the modeled goal. What these reports will do is show the accuracy of pre-construction energy models in estimating actual energy use in buildings once they are occupied and all systems are running. That will help AIRE give better advice to developers—from the very first step—as new projects are undertaken. We are ready and eager to offer this advice; just email us at email@example.com to learn more about the green building density incentive program and get started.
By: Joan Kelsch