Monday, June 06, 2011

Where are Virginia's Green Apartments?


Arlington Virginia, one of the most affluent counties in the U.S, takes a predictably green approach to development. Burnishing its green credentials, Arlington was the first jurisdiction in the country to adopt an incentive system to persuade developers to build sustainable, efficient structures, enacting a green program as early as 1999. Alexandria partnered with Virginia Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to design a new collaborative planning process, called Eco-City Alexandria, to foster sustainable building. So far, surprisingly few residential developers have taken up the counties on their offers.

Since Arlington's Green Building Incentive Program went into effect in 2000, permitting extra height or density for obtaining LEED certification, just three residential developments in the city of Arlington have earned the USGBC's green ranking, only one of which received additional density. In Alexandria, only one new condo and one apartment achieved a LEED ranking. Arlington's 220 Twentieth in Crystal City is LEED certified, the lowest certification available, while Arlington's Parc Rosslyn, a subsidized housing project built by APAH, earned a Silver designation, one step better. Just recently, Lyon Place in Clarendon was awarded LEED status (the leasing office was unable to identify which kind). In Alexandria, Cromley Lofts earned Virginia's first LEED designation with an impressive Gold ranking (the 3rd highest of 4 levels) in 2007, but since then only the Station at Potomac Yards has achieved the USGBC's stamp of approval. The Crescent in Falls Church has also recently earned LEED recognition, and most recently the Macedonian obtained EarthCraft certification.

In Washington D.C., by contrast, numerous residences have the distinction, including the Alta, WestEnd25 (Gold), Flats130 (part of LEED-ND, a more nebulous neighborhood designation) at Constitution Square, Capitol Quarter (Silver), Georgia Commons, Gables at Takoma (Silver), Residences at Square 80, and Solea condos (Gold). The USGBC website, though providing an incomplete and inadequate list, puts Arlington's LEED projects at 34 (for all building types), and Washington D.C.'s LEED projects at 141.

Developers have long complained that the LEED certification process is rigid and costly, requiring a longer process, more paperwork and greater expense both to build and get certification. Another factor is public demand, which most agree puts very little premium on green construction. But Joan Kelsch, Arlington's Green Building Program Manager, says that shortcomings in the initial program have been addressed, and that a wave of LEED certified buildings is about to hit the market. In 2009, the county tweaked its incentives, raising the incentive for housing developers and lowering incentives on office construction, which were building in green with or without the incentives. "Any large office building getting built is going to be LEED certified, because the market is demanding that now. That's not true of residential buildings." Of residential buildings, Kelsch says "they typically get 6-12 units [in extra density], depending on the size of the building."
Kelsch says the lack of LEED certified projects has more to do with timing. "I think the fact that we don't have alot of them finished is not necessarily an indication that the program hasn't been successful, there's just been a lull in construction and there are many in the pipeline. We think its been very successful." Kelsch also notes that 24% of residential units approved between December, 2003 and December, 2008 were intended to be certified as LEED, some of which are under construction or have been built and are seeking certification. Others, like the Tellus, simply haven't been built. But numerous other projects have been designed without green features.

Virginia also recognizes the EarthCraft brand of sustainable certification, which several developments have opted for but which Arlington's Green Building Incentive Program does not recognize. According to Kelsch, the county has considered giving bonus density for meeting EarthCraft, which the state now uses to reward subsidized housing projects.

Though the trend is for better, greener buildings, neither the county nor the public are yet demanding it. Until one of them does, it seems builders will not always see the advantages of green.

Arlington, Virginia real estate development news

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The larger Lyon Place building on the south side of Clarendon Blvd (pictured)is LEED certified. The other building is seeking final decision from the USGBC.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Arlington does not recognize EarthCraft as a residential green building certification. Their own Green Home Choice is based off of EarthCraft.

Anonymous said...

So many errors here it's hard to know where to start. "city of Arlington", Arlington is a County. Crescent Falls Church is in ARLINGTON not Falls Church. There are many more errors -- check facts please.

Carl on Jun 10, 2011, 4:13:00 PM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I like how when I Googled "DC Green Condos" this site came up and almost all of the properties on here are apartments for rent. Oh, and Residences at Square 80 is a dorm at George Washington University. I wonder how much their units are selling for. lol

Frank James on May 17, 2013, 6:42:00 AM said...

The larger Lyon Place building on the south side of Clarendon Blvd (pictured)is LEED certified. The other building is seeking final decision from the USGBC....


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