Rockville Office Building Is Named State's Greenest
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Two Thousand Tower Oaks Boulevard off Interstate 270 in Rockville looks like most modern suburban office complexes. It's a sleek and shiny metal and glass structure that seems to have plopped down like an alien spacecraft on a freshly mowed plot.
What's special about this building, its developers say, is the technology inside, which earned it the superlative from the state government of being the "greenest" office building in Maryland.
Walking into the building, made of an assortment of recycled items including old bluejeans and wheat products, visitors might think they are entering an office with dirt floors, joked Marnie Abramson of the building's developer, Tower Companies, which is based there.
The building's insulation is made of recycled denim. A composite of wheat products makes up the doors. The floor is old carpet that has been shaved down.
But, Abramson said, the structure has the amenities of the average office building and then some.
The building has a fitness center, a three-level underground parking garage and flat-screen televisions embedded in its elevator walls. Every work space has an outside view. The air-conditioning system circulates fresh, filtered air in the building every 51 minutes.
Abramson said the building challenges preconceived notions about environmentally friendly structures, such as that having a green building involves sacrificing certain conveniences or that environmental friendliness is counterintuitive to business success.
Tower Companies received $1.6 million in a state tax credit for the building, Abramson said, and dangling carrots like that in front of the business community is a simple and effective way to encourage them to take part.
Because of the tax credit, the idea of green practices as the norm "permeates into the marketplace," she said. "In the long term, we can build our way into a sustainable future."
The tax credit, which was created in 2001, allows developers to recoup 6 to 8 percent of construction costs if a building qualifies for platinum status in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system.
Reaching platinum status includes using 100 percent wind energy, limiting water and electricity consumption, reducing air and light pollution and making sure 90 percent of occupants have outside views.
Tower Oaks was the first building in Maryland to qualify and was named the greenest office building in Maryland by state Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) last month.