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January 23, 2009  

Big congrats to great sponsor Lerner Enterprises (largest privately-held developer in this region), which has sold 42 acres at Dulles Town Center to the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, to be held for future use as National Rural's HQ, earmarked for LEED Gold.


We're proud to announce that on Feb 12 we'll be hosting the CEO and founding chairman of the USGBC, Rick Fedrizzi, at a Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze, "Green in the Era of Obama" (more detail and signup on Monday). But to get you psyched up, herewith some environmental stories: 


Caseloads of bulbs, computers, and cell phones were pulverized and recycled at Calvert Jones' free Fluorescent Bulb Drop-Off Day Wednesday morning in Alexandria. The four-foot fluorescent bulb above contains enough mercury vapor to contaminate 6,000 gallons of drinking water, but that won't happen thanks to Jason Cooper, Stan Peregoy (Calvert prez), and activated carbon in the "Bulb Eater." Of course, you'll need a replacement once that tube is crushed, and Stan recommends their newest LED tubes which are mercury-free and can replace a 40W bulb with 10W.


We stuck around for show-and-tell with LEED AP Jim Beach. That's a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter in front of him; it's common in sterile hospital operating rooms, but Jim's says he's field testing a model that fits standard office HVACs and leads to huge savings and LEED points. (And also clean air, we hear.) On the left, a watt-meter and motor attached to a new device called KVAR, which optimizes efficiency of electrical systems. We'd be more specific about amps, watts, and joules, but conjuring memories of high school shop does nobody any good.


Former DC planning honchess (and now Arent Fox attorney) Ellen McCarthy educated a group of 45 at the firm's office the other day on "Complying with Green Building Requirements in DC," here with panelists Brendan Shane (DC environmental department) and Institute for Market Transformation's Cliff Majersik. In 2010, buildings over 200K SF must disclose their Energy Star benchmark, a 1 to 100 score tracking efficiency. (It's a fair grade because it compensates for variables like climate, occupants, and hours of operation.) Cliff advises "learn your score now," so you can fix a low one before public disclosure is mandated. There's other benefits, as well—Since '06, Energy Star rated buildings have had better occupancy, rental rates, and sales price ($16/SF higher).


Also on hand: JBG's John Simeon, Arent Fox's Debra Yogodzinski, Tishman Speyer's Joe Steller, and Arent Fox's Ed Rogers. We learned that starting in '09, all non-residential buildings must file a LEED checklist and meet basic LEED certification by 2012. (Filing early can earn you expedited permitting.) Seem stringent? It gets tougher next year when Cliff says the city council (whom he advises) wants to make DC's HVAC commercial energy efficiency requirements 30% higher than MD and VA.


We hear it's tenant's heaven out there, but what're the facts? Studley director David Lipson tells us weak space demand has helped DC office tenants find free initial rent and increased allowances. But don't expect a flight to quality—there haven't been significant drop-offs yet in rents on trophy assets. Unlike NYC, tenants aren't trading up from B to trophy without increasing their rent. It's still too early to tell how this cycle plays out compared to past recessions, David says: After the late '80s downturn, there was no rental or land price growth until almost 2000; however, today lacks similar overbuilding that characterized that earlier collapse.

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