- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

The Tower Building, a Rockville, Md. office project designed to be environmentally friendly, opened this month.
The 10-story, 276,000-square-foot building overlooks Interstate 270. It features windows that reduce the outside heat transferred through the glass during the summer, which makes the building cheaper to cool. The special windows also allow more daylight in the building than conventional glass.
Other features include an air ventilation system that allows fresh air to be exchanged with indoor air every 55 minutes. In most new buildings, air is exchanged about every 70 minutes, the developer says.
The building also has "smart" elevators that "learn" the traffic patterns of the building's tenants.
"We believe that environmentally sensitive buildings enhance the health of the employees who work in them. And if you build for the health of the employees, you build for the health of the business," says Jeffrey Abramson, partner in the Tower Cos., the development group that built the project.
Tower spent about $35 million to build the project, including $600,000 for the extra environmental features, Mr. Abramson says.
So far, the new building has attracted two big tenants: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Bank of America Corp.
The Tower Cos. is seeking to have the building certified through the United States Green Building Council. The council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program recognizes buildings that meet the strictest environmental standards.
More developers are building green projects, says Christine Ervin, the council's president and chief executive. Two hundred eighty-six projects have applied for LEED certification, representing 54 million square feet, or about 6 percent of all new commercial space in the United Staets, Ms. Ervin says.
"Some companies have a strong environmental ethic and they want their buildings to reflect that. Other companies just see good business sense in making their buildings as energy efficient as possible," she says.
The Tower Cos. is also building one of the Washington area's first green apartment projects. The 78-unit Blair Towns complex near the Silver Spring Metrorail station will open in March 2003, and will be even more environmentally friendly than the Tower Building, Mr. Abramson says.
"We learned a lot with the Tower Building, but there is more that we can do," he says.

Give us a break
Discovery Communications wants a $15.6 million state tax break as a reward for building its new headquarters in Montgomery County.
Several Montgomery legislators support the tax break proposal, saying the company deserves a reward for choosing Silver Spring as the site of its new $200 million campus.
Other lawmakers criticize the request as corporate welfare, and compare it to the $44 million incentive package the state handed Marriott International two years ago.
The state said it gave Marriott the money to keep it from moving its headquarters from Bethesda to Northern Virginia. It was later discovered that Marriott had already decided to stay in Maryland when the tax breaks were approved.

Apartments planned
LCOR will build a $38 million luxury apartment high-rise at 14th and N streets NW, currently the site of the National City Christian Church parking lot.
The 12-story building will have 171 units. Construction is expected to begin between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.
The developer signed a 99-year ground lease with the church in January.

Zoning approved
The D.C. Zoning Commission approved plans last month for Station Place, a 1.5 million-square-foot office complex near Union Station.
The federal Securities and Exchange Commission will lease the first building, which will have 650,000 square feet.
Louis Dreyfus Property Group will develop Station Place. Brokerage Cushman & Wakefield will handle the leasing.

In other news
Corinthian Realty Partners has purchased the 128,723-square-foot building at 400 Sixth St. SW for $31.65 million. A partnership sold the property, which was built in 1967. Brokerage CB Richard Ellis arranged the sale.
The AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust has purchased a the Hampton Overlook office complex and Hampton South warehouse in Capitol Heights for $12.4 million. Advent Realty LP sold the properties, which have 238,000 square feet combined. Brokerage NA KLNB arranged the sale.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has leased 51,000 square feet at the planned Ammendale South Technology Center in Beltsville. Regional developer Manekin will build the campus, which will have 185,000 square feet.


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