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Amazon’s long-awaited HQ2 is here, and it’s setting a new industry standard with its climate-friendly construction and operations.
Energy News Network reporter Elizabeth McGowan got a tour of the 2.1 million-square-foot facility that recently opened in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s got all the features of a typical tech giant headquarters: a pair of glass towers, a lush public park, and beautiful indoor spaces.
But despite spanning 2.5 acres, Amazon’s HQ2 has a comparatively small climate footprint. That’s because its construction was focused on minimizing embodied carbon — a burgeoning industry term that refers to all the carbon emitted when transporting and building a structure.
One big example: the headquarters needed a lot of carbon-intensive cement, so its construction team built an on-site batch plant to minimize truck trips. It also relied on locally sourced ingredients to further reduce the cement’s emissions impact. In all, the carbon footprint of HQ2’s concrete is 37% below the industry baseline.
Amazon is seeking LEED platinum certification for HQ2 — the highest that the U.S. Green Building Council hands out. But its innovative building practices are also likely to shape the next wave of LEED standards, said Wes Sullens, LEED director at the council.
“When you get a large, high profile project like an Amazon, which jumps through hoops to innovate, it transforms the market,” Sullens said.
And when those innovations become mainstream, it’s easier for LEED to ask everyone else to stretch farther.
Read more about how Amazon is pushing the (building) envelope at the Energy News Network.
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