Building Green

NAR’s new D.C. headquarters shows that green features can coexist with a bottom-line orientation.

March 1, 2003

“We didn’t start out with the idea of creating a green building. Our first priority was to provide a permanent, cost-effective home for NAR and its staff in the District,” says Dale Stinton, NAR Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer. In fact, says Stinton, it wasn’t until the Real Property Operations Committee (RPOC) saw some of the environmentally sensitive features already incorporated into the winning building design by Graham Gund Architects of Cambridge, Mass., that it started thinking seriously about how environmental sustainability and good business principles could work together.

“We felt that by incorporating green features with a reasonable payback into the new NAR headquarters in Washington, D.C., we could demonstrate to the real estate community that building an environmentally sensitive building could be done cost effectively,” say Richard Rosenthal, chairman of the RPOC D.C. Subcommittee.

Many aspects of the building--from the reclamation of a brownfields site directly facing the Capitol to the 19 percent recycled content in the building’s stunning green curtain wall of high-efficient “smart” glass—meld environmental awareness and good design.

The building’s triangular shape and narrow floorplate both take full advantage of the irregular site and make it possible for daylight to reach 98 percent of the interior space, greatly decreasing energy usage for lighting. To take further advantage of this benefit, interior lights are equipped with daylight sensors that automatically adjust the artificial light levels as natural daylight dims or increases.

The building’s energy demands are also kept in check by the use of light-colored, reflective Energy Star roofing materials. “Even the concrete pavers on the building’s roof-terrace were chosen because they help cool the building. Visitors using the terrace will think we picked the pavers just for appearance, but we’re also doing our part to protect the ozone layer,” says RPOC Chairman Jim Helsel.

The flowering planters that create an oasis on the roof terrace are mirrored in a pocket park at the tip of the site on ground level. The area, which is actually a federal park monument site, will be relandscaped using native plant materials and will be maintained by NAR for both its tenants and pedestrians.

To reinforce its commitment to environmental sustainability, NAR hopes to qualify the building for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification, says Iris Amdur of Natural Logic, in Washington, D.C. Amdur, a sustainable design specialist, LEED™ Accredited Professional, and former REALTOR , is assisting NAR in meeting the requirements of this prestigious standard created by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED Green Building Rating System ™ awards points in five main categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Interior Environmental Quality. The NAR building will earn credits toward LEED Certification for efforts ranging from using captured rainwater to irrigate landscape vegetation and locating near public transportation to diverting construction waste away from landfills through recycling, says Amdur.

“It’s the confluence of things—environmental sustainability, location, beauty, and affordability—that will make NAR’s new Washington home such a special building,” concludes Dale Colby, NAR past treasurer and member of the new building’s project team.

Mariwyn Evans

Mariwyn Evans is a former REALTOR® Magazine writer and editor, covering both residential brokerage and commercial real estate topics.

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