Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Silver Spring, Md.–The U.S. Green Building Council has certified a suburban Washington, D.C., multifamily residential property, Blair Towns, LEED Platinum under the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system. It is the first property certified as such anywhere in the world.
This particular LEED designation isn’t the first one for the property, which includes one- to three-bedroom townhomes on 27 acres in Silver Spring, Md. When it was developed in the early 2000s by the Tower Cos., Blair Towns won LEED certification for New Construction, making it the first certified apartments in the country. According to Tower, the company has been working assiduously to upgrade the property since then, with an eye toward the platinum designation.
Among other things, Rockville, Md.-based Tower closely manages the turnover process of apartment units at the 107,000 square-foot property, a process that includes environmentally friendly materials purchasing, indoor air-quality management and waste management. When a unit is turned over, all materials used–such as carpet or paint–are environmentally friendly and do not contain VOC. Also, building management employs a comprehensive green cleaning program that specifies green products, equipment and procedures, and has undertaken an education program that involves staff and occupants, so everyone contributes to reducing their carbon footprint.
“LEED certification is one milestone in a continuous improvement process,” David Borchardt, Tower’s chief sustainability officer, tells MHN. “The reason it matters to residents is because the process includes upgrading the energy efficiency of equipment and appliances that are replaced in Blair Towns, which in turn lowers utility bills for them.”
The process of greening the property will not end with the platinum certification, Borchardt adds. “We’re always evaluating the environmental attributes of products we use in the building, and all of our properties, to ensure that they’re the safest available for human health and have the greatest environmental benefit,” he says. “This improves the air, and tenants who suffer from allergies say that their symptoms diminish when inside of Blair Towns.”