- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New federal government buildings in the Washington area would become models of “green building” design under a bill approved by a Senate committee last week.

The legislation would set up a new office to encourage the General Services Administration to make environmentally friendly features, such as solar heat and recycled water, a high priority when the agency awards contracts to architects.

GSA officials say they already are making great strides toward designing green buildings.

The Senate bill would reinforce a 1999 executive order requiring more environmentally friendly features in federal buildings. High fuel costs are adding to the GSA’s emphasis on green buildings, GSA officials said.

Recent examples in the Washington area include:

• Two buildings the Environmental Protection Agency is leasing at Potomac Yards in Arlington received a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) standards. The buildings opened in July with low water-flow toilets and systems to reduce energy use by 20 percent. Gold is the second-highest rating from the council, a trade group for the green building industry.

• The new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Satellite Operations Center being built in Suitland is designed with under-floor air distribution, abundant daylight through skylights and large windows and a 146,000 square-foot green roof, the largest on the East Coast. A green roof refers to buildings with vegetation planted on top.

• A new Food and Drug Administration building in White Oak is being built on a “brownfield” site and will use its own cogeneration plant. The plant will produce both heat and electricity from natural gas. Brownfields refer to property that is being cleaned up after being contaminated with hazardous substances.

During a commercial real estate seminar this week at a downtown hotel, builders and architects told their colleagues they need to adapt quickly to the new technologies and regulations that are emerging for green buildings.

Many cities are developing standards or financial incentives to incorporate environmental design into their buildings.

Chicago, for example, requires that public buildings have green roofs on at least half of their free roof space.

“I believe there are 42 cities that have incentives,” said Kim Hosken, the U.S. Green Building Council’s director of new construction.

She was a panelist at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm’s commercial real estate seminar Tuesday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

In 2000, there were about $792 million of green buildings under construction in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Now, about $7.73 billion of construction projects are being built that meet some level of the council’s LEED standards.

In other news …

• The Anacostia Waterfront Corp. said yesterday it has chosen Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Architects to design a development plan for Poplar Point, a 110-acre site east of the Anacostia River across from the Washington Navy Yard.

The development plan is supposed to describe public parks, memorial sites and restored wetlands and a street network for the surrounding neighborhood. The architects also are supposed to at least consider including a new soccer stadium for D.C. United.

Poplar Point is one of several land parcels the federal government is transferring to District ownership.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Contact Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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