Realtor Group Opens Green Office in D.C.

Realtor Group Opens Green Office in D.C.

The National Association of Realtors has officially opened for business in one of Washington, D.C.'s most environmentally advanced commercial building expected to receive "green" certification.

The striking, blue-green, glass-wrapped structure, which will serve as the Washington home of Chicago-based NAR, creates a dramatic presence at 500 New Jersey Avenue, with a breathtaking view of the U.S. Capitol, only three blocks away.

NAR president Walt McDonald, broker-owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate in Riverside, Calif., opened today's ceremonies. Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-DC), also delivered remarks.

The building will be the first newly constructed building in the District of Columbia to meet "green" standards -- high levels of environmental performance as set by the U.S. Green Building Council. NAR expects to earn a certification from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System for the structure. The building's efficient use of water and energy will benefit the environment while keeping operating costs down. The building uses an abundance of natural daylight and low-emitting materials to help create a worker- and visitor-friendly indoor environment.

McDonald said the building was more than a symbol of NAR's growing strength and influence. "It is one more way we are achieving our mission as an association to be the leading advocate in our nation's capital for our business and for property owners' rights. It also represents the important work our members do to help America's families achieve the dream of homeownership."

"The building is also a testament of NAR's commitment to this community," MacDonald said, noting that NAR has had a consistent presence in Washington for more than 60 years. Just last May, NAR staff and members came together to build several homes for low-income families in the District, right across the mall in the Southeast section of Washington, through Habitat For Humanity's Congress Builds America program.

"Now, we are here to celebrate a new partnership with Mayor Williams and help to redevelop this neighborhood," he said.

Earlier this year, NAR launched the Ambassador for Cities program as a way to help Realtors work with officials in several cities, including Washington, to promote housing opportunities in their communities. "Through this program, we are directly supporting Mayor Williams' efforts to revitalize this neighborhood -- just a few blocks from our building. Specifically, we are helping to create a comprehensive plan to re-develop the area. The result will be more safe and affordable housing for current and new residents of this community."

Additionally, NAR and the Washington, D.C., Association of Realtors have developed a new D.C. Homebuyer Guide that Realtors will give to families who are interested in taking the important first steps toward homeownership. In describing the building's impact on the community, McDonald called the structure the Realtors' own architectural masterpiece. "It's an aesthetic blend of wood, concrete, glass and steel that represents NAR's aspirations, our members' aspirations and the entire Realtor family."

The NAR building was recently honored with two awards by the Washington Business Journal for best architecture and best financing. It was also named runner up for best urban office project and best sustainable growth project.

NAR occupies five floors of the 12-story building, including the top four floors, using about 40,000 square feet, with the balance of the 93,000 square feet to be leased. A rooftop facility will be used for social gatherings.

Some of the "green" aspects of the building include:
  • A landscaping plan that uses native plant species to reduce irrigation demands and captures rain water for reuse in irrigation

  • Efficient HVAC systems and a high-performance glass curtain wall to reduce energy use by as much as 30% compared to code standards

  • Zero use of CFC-refrigerants; high-recycled building materials

  • Smoking prohibitions throughout the office spaces

  • A carbon dioxide monitoring system to introduce fresh air in areas of increased occupancy
Groundbreaking on the Class "A" 12-story modern, environmentally sustainable building began in October 2002, and NAR took possession of the structure in May 2004. The site, a reclaimed "brownfield" (contaminated ground) previously occupied by a gas station, was cleaned up under NAR oversight. The crew dug out and hauled away more than 24 feet of dirt to approved waste sites before construction began.

Design concepts were developed by architectural firms Graham Gund Architects of Cambridge, Mass.; Clark Redfield Architects of Charlottesville, Va.; and Bing Thom Architects of Vancouver, Canada. Graham Gund Architects was winner of the design competition.